Jessica Hernandez’s killers ‘justified’ – like all killer cops under Morrissey

Nobody expected Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey to indict police officers for killing 17-year-old Jessica Hernandez. Denver, after all, isn’t a city known for taking its use-of-force cases particularly seriously.

In a decision made public today, Morrissey has maintained his perfect record of never prosecuting any law enforcement officers for a use-of-force death.

Even though Morrissey found that neither officer Gabriel Jordan nor officer Daniel Greene was struck by the car Hernandez was driving, he justified their shooting as a way of defending against “the manner in which she drove the car in close and dangerous proximity to them.”

Jordan and Greene fired five and three shots, respectively, at the unarmed 17-year-old in an alley in Denver’s Park Hill neighborhood on January 26. The other teens in the car weren’t hit by the officers’ bullets.

Hernandez family lawyer Siddartha Rathod says Morrissey’s letter suggests the car was moving faster than it actually was.

“It comes as no surprise that, once again, Denver’s DA is exonerating the illegal actions of its officers,” Rathod said.

The family will seek justice in the form of a federal civil rights lawsuit – one in a string of them. Last year, the city paid out a $6 million jury-award for the death of Marvin Booker at the hands of sheriff’s deputies at the city jail.

Morrissey’s decision not to indict Jordan and Greene is being slammed today by several civil rights groups who question the DA’s practice of relying on Denver police to investigate its own officers in use of force cases. Most other metropolitan police departments rely on other agencies to review police shootings.

“Beyond the obvious questions about conflict of interest, it is impossible to trust the objectivity of Mr. Morrissey, given that he has not filed a single indictment following an officer-involved shooting during his tenure as District Attorney,” said ACLU executive director Nathan Woodliff-Stanley.

Morrissey’s track record justifying use of force cases is “a disturbingly predictable pattern,” he added.

The ACLU is renewing its call for a federal probe into Denver’s police department, saying the public has “lost its faith in Denver’s ability to hold police accountable in use-of-force cases.”

Morrissey’s decision not to indict comes two weeks after a scathing independent review of Denver’s sheriff’s department found officials virtually ignored most use-of-force incidents.

“What went on after most force incidents really can hardly be called an investigation at all,” one of the consultants who conducted the independent review said in May.

It’s the exception rather than the rule that officers involved in use of force cases — even those who killed Marvin Booker in the case that resulted in the $6 million penalty against the city — are disciplined in Denver.

Lawyers for the Hernandez family question the completeness of Morrissey’s review of their daughter’s case, saying he apparently doesn’t have access to a videotape obtained by some news outlets showing the scene immediately after Hernandez’s shooting.

“If he wanted to do a thorough investigation, you’d assume he’d have obtained that video of what happened just seconds after Jessica was shot,” Rathod said.

As of this writing, a protest of Morrissey’s decision and a vigil for Hernandez are being planned.


Photo credit: Jeffrey Beall, Creative Commons, Flickr

A recovering newspaper journalist, Susan reported for papers in California and Nevada before her 13 years as a political reporter, national reporter and metro columnist at The Denver Post. “Trashing the Truth,” a series she reported with Miles Moffeit, helped exonerate five men, prompted reforms on evidence preservation and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in investigative journalism. Her 2012 project, “The Gray Box,” exposed the effects of long-term solitary confinement. The ACLU honored her in 2017 for her years of civil rights coverage, and the Society of Professional Journalists honored her in April with its First Amendment Award. Susan and her two boys live with a puppy named Hymie whom they’re pretty sure is the messiah.


  1. GIANT surprise. Da’s are among the LEAST honorable people in society, cops the most cowardly. How is it that cops are armed to the teeth, but THEY are the ones always afraid of EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING? And when THEY are afraid, one or more of US dies. What happened to the cops being the BRAVE ones who were willing and ready to actually risk something to do their job? I’m not seeing that. I’m seeing cops pull out their guns at the first POSSIBLE threat, even when there ISN’T one there, escallate the situation into something MUCH worse, and then kill someone. Two weeks of vacation, and it’s like nothing ever happened. Except that the OTHER pseron involved doesn’t get to go home.

    And then we have the DA’s who decide that NO MATTER WHAT, the cops are just little angels trying to just survive in our incredibly violent society. It’s just too bad that REALITY doesn’t say that at all. We can’t possibly actually let people be treated as HUMAN BEINGS first, can we? Not in THIS country, anymore.

    This DA is a disgrace. Justice means NOTHING to him, OBVIOUSLY. Just ass kissing to the cops, that’s what he’s about. What a shame.

    And all this time, I thought that LIFE was supposed to matter, even to republicans. The keep TALKING like that, but when push comes to shove, there is NOTHING further from the truth.

    Denver, remember this, and FIRE this DA next time you get a chance. He’s a comnplete disgrace

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