DENVER — Protesters spent time in Denver Tuesday asking questions and demanding “justice” a day after police shot and killed a teenage girl who they say drove at them while she was in a stolen car.
The Office of the Independent Monitor announced Tuesday night it’s opening an in-depth evaluation of Denver police shootings that involve moving vehicles. There have been four of those incidents in the last seven months in the city.
“This evaluation will assess the current state of the DPD’s policies, practices, and training on shooting at moving vehicles in comparison to national standards and best practices from other police departments in the United States,” Independent Monitor Nicholas Mitchell said.
Earlier in the day, protesters took their complaints about the latest shooting to the District Attorney’s office in a sometimes angry confrontation. They want the DA to take action after this fourth shooting involving a moving vehicle.
A witness said five teenagers were in a stolen Honda Monday morning in an alley near 25th Avenue and Newport Street. The music was loud and neighbors called police. When the confrontation with police was over, 17-year-old Jessie Hernandez was dead.
Officers say the driver tried to run them down with the car. One officer was hit. He received treatment for a leg injury and was released from the hospital Monday.
The shooting re-ignited protests over the use of lethal force in Denver.
“This DA’s office have had a propensity to never hold the police or the sheriffs or anyone in law enforcement responsible for the deaths of people who died …” said Rev. Patrick Demmer of the Greater Denver Ministerial Alliance.
The coroner said the teenager died from multiple gunshot wounds.
The teen’s cousin was part of a confrontation with representatives of the Denver DA’s office Tuesday.
“You’re not letting me be patient. I have to stay up … I’ve been up since six in the morning since yesterday looking for what happened to my cousin. I have not slept in 24 hours trying to find out what is wrong!! And you can’t tell me why you shot my cousin!!” Jose Castaneda said.
Prosecutors promised protesters a thorough and transparent investigation. “It’s an issue that we face not only in Denver but across the nation to address some of these concerns,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Lamar Sims told the group.
A vigil was held Monday night for Jessie Hernandez. It followed a string of allegations against police and sheriff’s deputies. Some of those cases have forced the city to pay millions of dollars in settlements.
“There’s no question that force is resorted to far too readily, far too quickly as a first resort, not a last resort,” ACLU spokesman Nathan Woodliff-Stanley said.
Both officers who fired at the stolen car were on paid administrative leave.
Protesters demand the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the girl’s death.