DENVER (CBS4) – The Denver Police District 2 station was evacuated on Saturday so the bomb squad could investigate a suspicious package. About the same time emotions flared at a community meeting with police over officer-involved shootings.
District 2 is where the two officers involved in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Jessica “Jessie” Hernandez are stationed. Police could not link the package and those officers and it turned out the package was not a threat.
Around the time the bomb squad was scouring District 2, community members attended a meeting that was organized in the wake of police shootings, especially the death of Hernandez.
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At the meeting police reiterated their stance that officers are trained to shoot only to stop the threat when someone’s life is in immediate danger. But some say that training isn’t enough.
“I can’t imagine the loss of a child … my thoughts and my prayers are certainly with you,” Denver Police Chief Robert White said to the group.
“Is it necessary to always shoot?” Brother Jeff Fard said to CBS4’s Melissa Garcia following the meeting.
Fard, founder of Brother Jeff’s Cultural Center, organized the dialogue he that hopes will improve trust for law enforcement and make neighborhoods safer.
“Race, policing and justice. Many believe that some of these shootings would not occur if the racial dynamics were different,” Fard said.
“I don’t think Jessie needed to die. I think there are other solutions besides violence, especially police officers who have authority, who had backup,” said Laura Rossbert, who attended the meeting.
Elected officials plan to move forward with legislation aimed to change law enforcement training around deadly force.
“This is really exacerbating the situation that we have here in the state of Colorado and nationwide,” said Rep. Joseph Salazar, D-Thornton.
Teens in the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) community who knew Hernandez feel they are targeted by police.
“We are not going to let people be murdered in our streets anymore, and when it happens again, because we can’t trust that it won’t … let me just tell you that there is an entire united community that is going to hold you accountable,” an LGBT member said to White.
“I don’t want you or anyone else to think that we shoot more people than we don’t shoot, because that’s 100 percent inaccurate,” White said.
White said his department is conducting its own review of policies and procedures to try and prevent tragedies like Monday’s shooting.
“To go back at least for the last 5 years to look at every incident that we’ve had that’s related to a police officer involved in shooting at a moving vehicle,” he said.
Hernandez’s family is calling for federal intervention in the investigation of the teen’s shooting death by police officers. An investigation by the Denver Independent Monitor is currently underway.