Friends say police shoot, kill teen girl; community holds vigil

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DENVER -- A female was shot and killed by Denver Police officers after she allegedly drove at them in a stolen vehicle filled with five people who were "very young in age" in the Park Hill neighborhood Monday morning, Denver Police Chief Robert White said.

It happened in an alley at the 2500 block of Newport Street around 6:30 a.m.

Friends said the teenaged girl who was shot was 16-years-old. They identified her as Jessie Hernandez. Officials had not released names or ages of anyone involved in the incident.

People gathered for a vigil Monday night. Some carried signs protesting police violence.

The Denver Police Department initially said two suspects had been wounded, one critically, in the 2500 block of Newport Street and that no officers were injured.

But DPD later amended that, saying one female suspect was shot and that she later died, and one officer suffered what could be a broken leg.

Police responded to a call of a suspicious silver Honda parked in an alley three blocks east of Monaco Parkway between East 25th and East 26th avenues about 6:30 a.m.

White said the first officer who arrived ran the plates of the vehicle and found it to be stolen. After a backup cruiser arrived, the driver allegedly drove at the officers.

The officers opened fire at the car with several shots striking the female driver. One of the officers was hit in the leg by the car and was taken to a hospital for treatment. He was in fair condition, White said.

White said the woman appears to be of "very young age"  and that there were four other people all "very young in age" in the vehicle who were arrested.

"They killed my friend like they were just dragging her and they're trying to say it was a woman. That was a little a** girl that they just shot for no reason. Oh my (sniffs)," a tearful Briana Diaz said.

Several of the suspect's friends identified her as Jessie Hernandez. Officials did not release the names of anyone involved in the incident.

"Based on what I know about the case, obviously there are a lot of questions that need to be answered," White said. "The investigation will probably discover exactly what happened ... why, hopefully, the driver did what the driver did while the driver was in the stolen car."

Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey was at the scene with investigators collecting evidence. He and the independent police monitor will determine if the officers' actions were justified.

"I don't know what else they stole or whatever they did. I'm sorry, it don't seem like you had to kill her," neighbor Arellia Hammell said.

"I'm just really heartbroken right now because I just lost a friend that I was cool with (sobs)," Nyomi Wilder said. "She's not the type of person to do anything like this at all or get herself in trouble and it's just crazy to hear this."

There is video that shows emergency medical personnel arrive and prepare to move the suspect. Some witnesses say a second video shows her being dragged and searched by officers.

Denver police say proper protocol is to make sure a suspect doesn't pose a threat to officers or anyone else, even after they are "down."

Executive Director of Public Safety Stephanie Y. O’Malley also released a statement. “As is done whenever an incident of this type occurs, my office is continually observing the investigation into the officer-involved shooting that occurred this morning. We share the community’s concern for the individuals and officers involved in the shooting, as well as those who may have witnessed the incident.”

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