DENVER – The Denver Police Department on Monday announced it had cleared the two officers in the 2015 shooting death of a teenage girl who was inside a stolen car at the time.
DPD announced that Officer Gabriel Jordan and Officer Daniel Greene had used “appropriate force” and followed department policy as it was written at the time.
The Denver District Attorney’s Office had already determined that the two would not face criminal charges in the shooting, which left 17-year-old Jessica Hernandez dead.
The case had been reviewed by the DA’s Office, as well as DPD Internal Affairs, the Office of the Independent Monitor and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.
Hernandez was killed in an alleyway near the intersection of 25th and Niagara on the early morning of Jan. 26, 2015. Investigators said she was driving a stolen car toward two officers, who opened fire.
The department has since re-written its policy so as to not allow its officers to shoot at moving vehicles.
“After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the Jessica Hernandez case it has been determined that the officers’ actions do not warrant disciplinary action,” Denver Police Chief Robert C. White said, in part, in a statement to Denver7. “Nonetheless, this incident is a tragedy for all involved. Ms. Hernandez had her whole life in front of her and we mourn her loss with the family.”
Hernandez’s family also issued a statement Monday:
Today, the family of Jessica Hernandez received a call from Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, who expressed compassion as he conveyed the results of the Police Department’s internal affairs investigation. This call followed a productive face-to-face meeting on November 16, 2016, where the family and Denver officials, including the Mayor and Chief White, discussed their strong desire to bring positive change from such an inexplicable tragedy. The family has expressed to Mayor Hancock their appreciation for his willingness to grieve and pray with them.
Nevertheless, the Hernandez family will achieve justice for Jessie and continue to advocate for meaningful police reform. DPD’s changed policies on vehicle stops and shooting into moving vehicles will hopefully prevent future tragedies like the killing of Jessie and other members of the Denver community. The Hernandez family will continue to work with the community and Denver to try to bring about positive change and ensure that Jessie’s death was not in vain.
The Hernandez family holds out hope that no other family or community will have to experience their pain. They appreciate the compassion and support that the Denver community has shown as they still try to come to grips with this immense loss. Not a day goes by that they don’t think about and miss their beloved Jessie.