A funeral mass for a 17 year old teen will be held on Saturday at a church North of Denver. Jessica Hernandez was fatally shot on January 16th after she drove a stolen car towards a police officer. Friends and well wishers are planning to gather for the funeral of a 17 year old girl shot to death by Denver police officers.
According to police account, Jessica was shot on January 16 after she drove a stolen car towards an officer in a residential alley in Denver. Police Chief Robert White said that the officers repeatedly asked Hernandez and four other teens to get out of the vehicle before two officers opened fire.
A teen co-passenger spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of safety concerns said that Jessica had lost control of the vehicle since she was already shot and was unconscious. The passenger also said the officers did not yell commands until after the shots were fired.
The shooting led to angry protests and came amid a national debate about police conduct and use of force which has been aggravated by the racially charged episodes in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City. Hernandez’s family and others have demanded an outside prosecutor to investigate what happened.
Hernandez said last week, speaking inside the trailer home where her daughter lived with five siblings, “I want another autopsy on my daughter so we can know how much damage they did. I want to know, how did this happen? I want to know everything.”
The US Supreme Court has ruled consistently that police officers may not use deadly force to stop a fleeing suspect unless the suspect is believed to be a significant physical threat. The definition of significant physical threat varies from department to department and policies vary considerably. The Albuquerque Police Department, for example, ordered officers in June to stop shooting at moving vehicles after a Justice Department report found a pattern of excessive force.
District Attorney Mitch Morrissey’s office has promised a quick and thorough investigation and has asked protesters for patience. Hernandez’s relatives meanwhile say that they do not foresee the office to do a fair and timely investigation, and that the department has a history of exonerating its officers.