DENVER (CBS4) – A teenage girl shot by police on Monday morning in Denver’s Park Hill neighborhood has died from her injuries, but Denver Police Chief Robert White believes the shooting was justified.
An officer was also injured in the incident when they were struck by a vehicle.
The shooting happened just after 7 a.m. Officers were at the scene on a call of suspicious activity in an alley behind 2521 Newport Street.
Police said they determined there was a stolen vehicle in the alley and when they approached it the driver hit one of the officers with the car.
“As they approached the driver’s vehicle the driver struck the original officer at which time the officers fired several shots, striking the driver,” White said.
That officer and another at the scene then fired at the vehicle and the driver was struck by one or more bullets.
Denver police say it’s unclear if the girl intentionally meant tried to hit the officer, but White said he believes his officers followed protocol.
“Obviously there are a lot of questions that need to be answered,” White said. “It appears that everyone in the car was very young in age.”
There were four other people in the car, and all of those people were taken into custody. White said all of the people in the car appeared to be young, possibly teens.
The names of the suspect or the officers involved so far haven’t been released by police, but a friend told CBS4 the teenager who was shot was 16-year-old Jessie Hernandez.
“I’m just heartbroken right now because I lost a friend that I was cool with,” said Nyomi Wilder. “They didn’t really have to shoot her like that.”
“She was just a cool girl. She was fun to be around and a person that liked to have fun. She’s not the type of person to do anything like this at all or get herself in trouble,” Wilder said. “It’s just unbelievable, honestly.”
Wilder told CBS4 she’s not sure what her friends were doing inside a stolen car.
“All I know is that shots were fired and now my friend is dead,” she said. “There’s nothing we can do about it.”
The officer who was hit by the vehicle was hit in the leg and is expected to be okay. Both officers have been placed on administrative leave during the investigation, which is standard procedure.
Police, the district attorney, and the Office of the Independent Monitor will conduct the investigation.