Jessie Hernandez, Teen Killed By Denver Cops: Protests Over Alleged Police Violence

Editor's note: To read an update about the Jessie Hernandez shooting, including information about a witness who says officers fired before one was struck by the car she was driving, click here.

Original post, 5:44 a.m. January 27: Yesterday, Denver police officers shot and killed the driver of a car that had been reported stolen. Afterward, friends identified the driver as Jessie Hernandez, sixteen, and at a vigil last night, they decried what they see as another example of law enforcement taking a life unnecessarily. A second demonstration is planned for this morning, with protesters expected to demand that prosecutors charge the officers involved. Photos, video, details and more below.

See also: Videos: Eric Garner Chokehold Death Protest in Denver Leads to Four Arrests, published December 4, 2014

The incident took place around 6:30 a.m. on Monday, January 26, at 2521 Newport Street in Park Hill. Police are said to have been called about a "suspicious" vehicle -- one driven by Hernandez and containing several other young people. As the cops moved in, one of the officers was reportedly struck in the leg by the car -- after which the bullets flew.

The first official Denver Police Department communication came via this tweet:

A followup tweet added:

The shock of what took place was compounded by early media reports, including this passage from a Denver Post article quoted on a Vigil Against Police Violence Facebook page created yesterday to organize a protest over what took place: "A neighbor captured a video of the female suspect being searched by police after she was shot. In the video, the female is handcuffed and rolled on her stomach and back, appearing to be searched. The female is limp, silent and motionless as officers move her about."

Before long, images of Hernandez began to surface, including this one.... ...and grieving loved ones made plans to gather at 26th and Newport last night to "take a stand against police violence in our communities," the event page text says.

The rally drew a sizable crowd of protesters, with emotions pouring out over the loss of so young a person.

Both of the officers in the incident have been placed on administrative leave -- standard procedure when such a shooting takes place.

Meanwhile, Hernandez mourners plan to continue their demonstrations today. A Denver Community Defense Committee Facebook post reads: "Thanks to everyone who attended tonight. There is another action being organized tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. at the Webb Building at Colfax and Bannock to demand that District Attorney Mitch Morrissey file charges against the cops who killed Jessie Hernandez. Spread the word. Solidarity!"

Look below to see a 7News report, a Denver Police video in which Chief Robert White describes what took place and a DAM Collective clip from last night's vigil.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts