Jessica Hernandez, 17, was shot dead by two Denver, Colorado, police officers Monday morning. Reports state that she drove what police say was a stolen Honda with four other teens inside down an alleyway. On Tuesday, one of those teenage passengers came forward to offer details of the tragedy — details that directly contradict a key element of the police account.
According to police, the car driven by Jessica “Jessie” Hernandez struck one of the officers in the leg, causing an injury that would send the officer to a hospital for treatment. When the car struck the officer, that’s when the two cops opened fire on the vehicle, striking Jessie Hernandez multiple times and killing the fun-loving, outgoing teen, the oldest of six siblings in what people describe is a tight-knit family.
But another teen girl who was inside the car as it rolled down the darkened alley tells a different story. Speaking to Denver’s Channel 9 News, the teen — who declined to be named publicly due to the explosiveness of the case which has already sparked protests in Denver — recounted a sequence of events that casts the response of the police in a less favorable light.
In fact, the girl said, one of the officers opened fire on the vehicle before one of the cops was struck on the leg by the car, and the only reason the car went out of control and hit the police officer was that Jessica Hernandez was already shot.
“When the cops walked up, they were on [Jessica’s] side of the car, and they shot the window and they shot her,” the witness told the TV station. “That’s when she wrecked, and that’s when the cop got hit.”
Once Hernandez was hit, she lost control of the vehicle, accidentally pinning the officer against a fence and breaking his leg, the teen recounted.
A medical examiner’s report said that Jessica Hernandez was shot “multiple times.” Otherwise, police have released very little information about the shooting that killed the beloved teen. They have not specified from whom the car was allegedly stolen, nor whether the officers felt threatened in some other way.
But Jose Hernandez, father of the slain teenager, finds that latter scenario improbable.
“She’s always happy,” the distraught dad told The Denver Post. “You know what her sister says? She wouldn’t even kill a fly.”
According to the parent of one of the other teenagers in the car, the group had been sitting in the car most of the night, talking and listening to music, not acting fearful that they would be caught in a stolen car.
The killing of Jessica Hernandez marked the fourth incident in the past seven months in which a Denver police officer fired into a moving vehicle.