Two Denver police officers acted lawfully when they shot and killed a 31-year-old woman after she fired a gun at them in August 2019, Denver District Attorney Beth McCann announced Monday.
The incident happened outside a 7-Eleven store at 1490 Perry Street on Aug. 15, when Officer Ismael Lopez and Corporal Brandon Reyes went to the store for a coffee break.
When Lopez arrived, he recognized a Jeep in the parking lot of the store as one that officers were looking for after it had evaded police two days prior.
Lopez approached the vehicle and detained a man who had been putting air in a tire. A woman in the passenger seat, later identified as Jamie Fernandez, started to walk away from the vehicle. At about the same time, Reyes arrived at the 7-Eleven and Lopez asked Reyes to stop Fernandez from leaving. As Reyes approached Fernandez, the woman pulled a gun from her purse and fired at the officers.
The officers returned fire.
Lopez fired 19 times and Reyes fired 11 rounds, according to the letter. Body camera footage shows that Fernandez was laying on the ground when at least 20 of those shots were fired. Lopez paused to reload and fired three shots after shouting, “She’s still up!”
McCann said in a decision letter that Lopez continued to fire after Fernandez fell because he could see Fernandez holding the gun while on the ground and still pointing it at officers.
“Although there were many rounds fired, once Ms. Fernandez lowered and dropped her gun from being aimed at the police, the lethal force used by the police stopped,” according to the letter.
The officers hit Fernandez at least 15 times, according to an autopsy report summarized in the letter. She also suffered a gunshot wound to her arm that appeared to be self-inflicted. Fernandez had alcohol, amphetamine and methamphetamine in her system when she died, according to the letter. The officers handcuffed her briefly after the shooting, although she was unresponsive. The handcuffs were removed when an ambulance arrived.
No one else was injured in the shooting.
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