Denver police are facing a backlash from Latinos after shooting Jessica Hernandez during a “joy ride” in a stolen car when she allegedly tried to run them down.
According to the Los Angeles Times, 17-year-old “Hernandez and four other girls were cruising Denver’s middle-class Park Hill neighborhood in someone else’s Honda when they were spotted by police.” Police say “they ordered the girls out of the car, but that instead Hernandez tried to run them down.”
Officers shot Hernandez, who was then “dragged from the car…and handcuffed before she died.” Some of those who were in the car say the vehicle did not careen toward police until Hernandez had been shot.
The Greater Denver Ministerial Alliance’s Reverend Patrick Demmer commented: “It is extremely troubling that those empowered and permitted to carry guns whose primary charge is to serve and protect are continually involved in the taking of lives of so many minority children who themselves are not armed.”
Youth organizer Mimi Madrid Puga said that many in the Latino community see carjacking as a “rite of passage” that shouldn’t attract police attention.
“I was Jessica 10 years ago. I took cars. It’s a rite of passage for many teens, but it shouldn’t carry the death penalty,” he said.
Carjacking is the unlawful seizure of a vehicle — alleged perpetrators can be charged for “armed assault” for occupying the vehicle. The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 allows for convicted carjackers to be sentenced to death.
Less than a month before the shooting, Hernandez resisted arrest after police found her driving 80 miles per hours in a 55 mph zone with a revoked license. She was due to appear in court on February 10.
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