The Cops Who Killed Jessie Hernandez Will Not Be Charged

If the Denver police have their way, you will never hear about Jessie Hernandez again.

On Friday, Denver’s District Attorney’s office stated in a press release that Officer Gabriel Jordan and Officer Daniel Greene, the two police officers responsible for Hernandez’s death, will not face charges in court. The 17-year-old Latina lesbian was shot and killed by the officers on January 26, 2015.

Jessica Hernandez in a photo provided by the family. Photo provided by familyPicture of Jessie Hernandez provided by family members to the Denver Post

Jordan and Greene claimed that they shot Hernandez, who, accompanied by four teenage friends, was driving a stolen car, in self-defense, because, they contended, she was trying to run them down with the vehicle. However, the autopsy report, which detailed the four gunshot wounds Hernandez received from the two officers, stated that “there was no evidence of close range discharge,” meaning that the officers’ testimony that they were acting in self-defense is highly unlikely. In a statement, reported by VICE, Hernandez family attorney Qusair Mohamedbhai  said, “There is now objective evidence contradicting the Denver Police Department’s claims that Jessie was to blame for her own death. These facts undermine the Denver Police Department’s claim that Jessie was driving at the officers as they shot her.”

However, in his letter absolving Jordan and Greene of Hernandez’s homicide, Denver DA Mitchell R. Morrissey concluded the exact opposite: “The facts show this was a defensive shooting by both officers,” he wrote.

“That is, their decisions to shoot Ms. Hernandez were justifiable in light of the manner in which she drove the car in close and dangerous proximity to them, threatening the life of Officer Jordan who had little room to avoid the car. The facts show that the force used by both officers was legally justified, and not unlawful, under Colorado law.”

Activists decried the decision. “We’re sickened and saddened by the decision to exonerate the officers,” said Lisa Calderon, co-chair of the Colorado Latino Forum’s Denver chapter, told the Denver Post. “But we’re not surprised.” In a statement on behalf of the family, Mohamedbhai said, “The Hernandez family knew that justice for Jessie’s death would not come from Denver’s insiders,” the Denver Post reported “The family continues to seek lawful means for justice and for change within Denver and throughout the nation.”

Case closed? Both Jordan and Greene get to keep their jobs, but in “non-line assignments”—as if that makes a difference. Hernandez is dead. Mainstream media has said very little about this case, even though it resonates with their indulgent, almost gleeful, reporting of police violence against people of color. There is an “epidemic” of police violence against minority communities in America, Darnell L. Moore recently noted at Mic, in observing that a whopping 41% of the 470 people killed by police this year alone were women of color, like Jessie Hernandez. And that epidemic bespeaks myriad of problems endemic to the criminal justice system, primarily related to the fact that this system is arguably the modern day machination of slavery, used to continue to oppress queer bodies and non-white bodies.

In the meantime, voices of dissent against this system of oppression have taken to social media to fight against this continued injustice against Hernandez, and the hundreds of those slain by officers who are supposed to “protect and serve.”