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Denver chief: Teen girl aimed car at officer

A girl who said she was in the car said Jessica Hernandez lost control of the car when she was shot and that was when an officer was hit.

By Frances Burns

DENVER, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Denver is reviewing its policies on police officers shooting at moving vehicles after the killing of a 17-year-old girl, officials said.

Police Chief Robert White said there has been no ruling on whether the shooting of Jessica Hernandez was justified. He said Hernandez aimed a stolen Honda at a police officer early Monday. The vehicle struck and injured the officer.

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"At some point, the original officer that responded to the scene, the vehicle started driving toward him, which pretty much had him between a car and a brick wall and a fence," White told the Denver Post. "Out of fear for his safety, he fired several shots and the other officer also fired several shots."

The mother of one of the other teens in the car disputed White's account. She told the Post her daughter said Hernandez lost control of the car after she was struck by police bullets.

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The girl, who did not want her name used, told KUSA-TV the same story.

"When the cops walked up, they were on (Jessica's) side of the car, and they shot the window and they shot her," she said. "That's when she wrecked, and that's when the cop got hit."

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The officers believed Hernandez, who had a short haircut, was male, witnesses said. They said she was handcuffed after being struck by multiple bullets.

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The officer who was hit by the vehicle sustained a broken leg. White said the officer may have broken his leg either when he was hit by the car or in his efforts to avoid it.

None of the teenagers in the car, who had been sitting in an alley listening to music, was armed, White said.

Both of the officers involved, Daniel Greene and Gabriel Jordan, have been placed on administrative leave. Greene has been a Denver officer for 16 years and Jordan for nine.

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Denver's rules allow officers to shoot at moving vehicles only in "the most extreme circumstances," White said. The officers cannot fire unless they are at risk of death or serious injury.

The American Civil Liberties Union has raised questions about whether officers receive adequate training in dealing with moving vehicles.

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