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Legal expert weighs in on shooting involving Uber driver

DENVER-- A legal expert is weighing in on the case of a Denver Uber driver accused of shooting and killing his passenger.

Denver criminal defense attorney, Dan Recht, said the overwhelming odds are that the Uber driver, Michael Hancock, will use self-defense, as his defense. But he said the success of that defense will depend on Hancock’s credibility.

“He did tell the person on the side of the road, when he pulled over, he was attacked by his passenger. Presumably that’s his customer, and that he acted in self-defense. It seems odd otherwise to think that a professional would without reason shoot his customer,” Recht said.

FOX31 also talked to a current Uber driver who wants to see more protections in place for those who pick up strangers.

“It could have been any one of us that accepted that ride,” Richard Rael said.

Rael said the shooting involving his fellow Uber driver illustrates the dangers of the job.

“Michael wanted to go home alive. He has two kids, a wife, he’s got people at the church who want to see him,” Rael said.

According to the probable cause statement, ten bullet casings along with a trail of blood were found at the scene. Police said the victim was slumped over in the front passenger seat.

“I don’t allow a rider to ride up front with me. That’s a no, no. It’s too simple to grab the steering wheel,” Rael said.

FOX31 talked to Hancock’s dad over the phone. He said his son has a conceal carry permit because he has felt threatened in the past. He also said Michael has a 4.9 out of 5-star rating on Uber. Rael also carries a weapon, a taser, to protect himself.

“Eventually if you get too close – what’s going to happen? I will use this,” Rael said.

We asked Recht if the ten rounds found at the scene will help or hurt the potential self-defense, defense.

“What we don’t know is how many of those ten rounds hit the victim. How many of those rounds are in the victim’s body? I would say clearly if the victim took ten shots to the head, that’s excessive use of force and it would suggest to a jury that this was not self-defense.”

For Rael, he purchased cameras to record every move during every ride. “Any allegation - any act of impropriety,” Rael said.

He said he wants to have hard evidence in case something similar happens in his car.

“It doesn’t offer a total piece of mind but in some ways it covers our butts,” Rael said.

Hancock had an advisement on Saturday and remains in custody without bond. The District Attorney’s office told FOX 31 the decision on whether or not they will file charges will likely happen later this week.

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