DENVER — The Denver District Attorney has cleared officers involved in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Jessie Hernandez of all charges as of Friday.
Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey announced in a letter to Chief of Police Robert White that the facts show that the fatal shooting of Hernandez was a legally justified defensive shooting that happened because the teen allegedly tried to run the officers over.
“Their decisions to shoot Ms. Hernandez were justifiable in light of the manner in which she drove the car in close and dangerous proximity to them, threatening the life of Officer Jordan who had little room to avoid the car,” said Morrissey.
Morrissey’s letter also summarizes the statement of facts that led to his decision to clear Officer Daniel Greene and Officer Gabriel Jordan of all charges.
Denver Police announced in a press release that their Internal Affairs Bureau will proceed with the administrative review of the case and of policy regarding shooting into moving vehicles
“This was a tragic event for the Hernandez family, the police officers involved in this incident, and our entire community,” said Mayor Michael B. Hancock in a statement. “I ask everyone to review the District Attorney’s letter for a complete explanation of what happened that day.”
The police investigation was conducted in accordance with police protocol in officer-involved shootings.
Community protests, calling the shooting excessive force, followed after her death.
A statement released by attorneys for the Hernandez family expressed their disappointment in the decision.
“Denver refuses to take responsibility for its officers’ excessive and unreasonable conduct, and instead has once again blamed Jessie for her own death,” the statement reads. “The Hernandez family knew that justice for Jessie’s death would not come from Denver’s insiders. The family continues to seek lawful means for justice, and for change within Denver and throughout the nation. ”
The family also says they encourage peaceful protest but do not condone any violence in Jessie’s name.
The ACLU of Colorado has been a vocal opponent of excessive force and issued a statement Friday following the DA’s decision.
Hernandez was shot and killed in a stolen car in a Denver alley Jan. 26. Officers said they fired at her because she tried to run them over. One officer was hit and he received treatment for a leg injury.
There were four other teens in the car with Hernandez that morning, but they weren’t injured.
A girl who says she was in the car when the shooting happens disputes the claim Hernandez drove at officers. “They just started shooting it all happened like under a minute they didn’t give her a warning to get out or nothing.”
Despite what others in the car say, White said they were warned before officers opened fire.
An autopsy in February determined that her cause of death was homicide and the manner of death from multiple gunshot wounds.
See full coverage of the Jessie Hernandez case.