World & Nation

Autopsy report: Denver girl shot by police had four gunshot wounds

Jessica Hernandez
As votive candles burn in the background, a photograph of Jessica Hernandez and Santa Claus sits on a table in her Thornton, Colo., home. Police say Hernandez, 17, was shot and killed by officers after she attempted to run over officers with a stolen car.
(David Zalubowski / Associated Press )

A Denver girl who was shot and killed by police while driving a stolen car last month had four gunshot wounds, two on the left side of her chest, according to an autopsy report released Friday by the Denver Office of the Medical Examiner.

According to the autopsy report, Jessica Hernandez, 17, was also wounded in the pelvis and right thigh, and had abrasions and bruises to her face, chest and extremities. She also tested positive for cannabinoids in her system, and had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.047%.

Hernandez was shot and killed on Jan. 26 as she and four other teenage girls took a joyride in a Honda. Her death was ruled a homicide by the coroner.

Officers said Hernandez tried to run them over when they ordered her out of the car, so they opened fire. Some of the car’s passengers said the vehicle went out of control only after Hernandez was shot.


Witnesses said Hernandez was dragged out of the car, apparently unconscious, and handcuffed on the ground before she died.

The report says there was “no evidence” that she had been shot at close range. The report did not list the exact number of times she was shot because it was “very likely” that a single bullet caused two wounds, according to the report.

“The report shows that Jessie was shot from the driver’s side of the car and not from close range,” according to a statement from Qusair Mohamedbhai, attorney for Hernandez’s parents. “These facts undermine the Denver Police Department’s claim that Jessie was driving at the officers as they shot her.”

The teenager’s death has sparked protests, and follows other recent police shootings in Ferguson, Mo., New York and Cleveland.


The shooting is being investigated by the Denver district attorney’s office. The autopsy report will become part of the investigative case file, said Lynn Kimbrough, spokeswoman for the office.

“It is certainly important to the investigation, certainly a part of the fact-gathering,” she said. “There is still work to be done before the legal review can begin.”

Kimbrough said she did not have a time line for when the legal investigation would start.

The Hernandez family has called for an independent federal investigation of their daughter’s death.

“The family has no confidence that the Denver Police Department or District Attorney will conduct any sort of fair or meaningful investigation,” the statement released by their attorney said.

Officer Raquel Lopez, spokeswoman for the Denver Police Department, said the department would not comment until the district attorney came to a decision on the case.

For more national news, follow @smasunaga.



Get our Today's Headlines newsletter