Several dozen people with candles and protest signs gathered last night near an alley where Denver police officers fatally shot a 16-year-old girl, recalling her bright smile and demanding answers about the deadly encounter. Police shot the teenager early yesterday after they say she struck and injured an officer with a stolen car. Authorities did not release the girl's name, but friends identified her as Jessica Hernandez. "We're angry about it. It's another life taken by another cop," says 19-year-old Cynthia Valdez, a close friend and schoolmate of the girl. "She was trying to find her talent. She wanted to find out what she wanted to be... Who knows what she could have been?"
Few details were immediately released after the shooting. The four other people in the car were not injured by the gunfire, police say. It was not clear whether any had been arrested. Police Chief Robert White says an officer was called to check on a suspicious vehicle and a colleague arrived after it was determined the car had been reported stolen. In a statement, police said the two officers then "approached the vehicle on foot when the driver drove the car into one of the officers." White says both officers then opened fire. The officer hit by the car was taken to a hospital with a leg injury. A witness whose 16-year-old daughter was in the car says she saw police with guns drawn pulling people out of the car, including Jessica, who was "not responding, not moving."