DENVER (CBS4) – The City of Denver has agreed to pay the family of a teenager, shot and killed as she was trying to run down officers in a stolen vehicle, roughly $1 million.
There are also significant non-monetary commitments in the settlement. One of those will include a member of the Hernandez family serving on the committee that will advise the Denver Police Department as it reviews community comments on the department’s revised use of force policy.
Denver police officers shot and killed Jessica Hernandez, 17, in 2015 as she refused orders to stop.
“It is very painful for me because day-by-day, it’s difficult to know we don’t have her with us,” said Jessica’s mother Laura Rosales after the settlement was announced.
“The death of Jessica Hernandez was a tragedy but the collective resolution of this civil matter marks the beginning of our work to heal as a community,” said Denver City Attorney Kristin Bronson.
The deadly shooting triggered a major policy change for the Denver Police Department concerning officers firing their weapons. Officers are no longer allowed to shoot at moving cars if the vehicle itself is the only thing considered a weapon.
City officials made the announcement about the settlement on Wednesday morning. Watch the entire news conference and family statement below.
“Jessica was a daughter of our community,” said the Hernandez family attorney. “She was a very good student and had good grades. She had a full future in front of her. There is not a day that goes by that her family does not remember Jessica.”
Denver Police Department officers Gabriel Jordan and Daniel Greene were cleared of criminal wrongdoing in the case. They said Hernandez was accelerating the vehicle toward Officer Jordan when the officers opened fire.
As part of the settlement, all officers with the Denver Police Department will be trained on the revised shooting into moving vehicles policy.
“The police department will also formalize into a written policy, it’s current practice of not proactively releasing information publicly, on the background of suspects in officer-involved shootings that are not directly related to the shooting incident itself,” said Bronson.
“The policy is that officers are not permitted to shoot into a moving vehicle when the vehicle is the only thing that’s considered the deadly weapon,” said Denver Police Chief Robert White.
The Hernandez family was emotional after the settlement was announced, talking about Jessica and how her memory will live on with them.
“Her words are always with me. She told me, ‘They don’t listen to me’ but I want peace,” said Jessica’s mother Laura Rosales. “When I am sad, she told me, ‘Always smile … remember that you are my life.'”
“The family does not want anyone to go through what they are going through,” said the Hernandez family attorney.
The Hernandez family had previously said they planned to sue the city over the deadly shooting.
The settlement, described as “roughly $1 million,” will apparently sideline any additional legal action from the Hernandez family.
“The decision to settle this matter was not based on the conduct of the officers. The city’s reasoning for settling this case has everything to do with our approach to finding creative solutions that work to rebuild the critical trust between our officers and residents,” said Bronson.
“We ask that you remember Jessica for who she was and that this will have positive change in the community,” said the Hernandez family attorney.
“This is no going back. I always say I want peace. I don’t want another family member to have something happen similarly. This is a strong pain that no one can imagine,” said Jessica’s mother Laura Rosales.
“All we want is peace. Peace. We don’t want violence. Just peace,” said Jessica’s father Jose Hernandez.
As part of the settlement, if the Hernandez family decides to start a nonprofit in remembrance of Jessica, the city will provide family members with training and help the family partner with a local nonprofit organization that can help them start up and manage the nonprofit.