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Uber driver Michael Hancock not guilty of first-degree murder in shooting death of passenger – The Denver Post

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Michael Hancock

Provided by Denver Police Department

Michael Hancock

Denver Uber driver Michael Hancock is not guilty of first-degree murder, a 12-member Denver jury decided Thursday after nearly 12 hours of deliberation.

Jurors were not given the option of convicting Hancock of a lesser charge. So they had to decide whether the driver shot his passenger, Hyun Kim, in self defense or whether he deliberately killed him.

Hancock is married with two children, and his parents live in the Denver area. Wearing a suit, a stood at the defense table, trying to hold back tears and smiling at his family after the verdict was announced.

The Hancock family went into a conference room at the Lindsey-Flanigan courthouse and cries of “hallelujah” could be heard in the hallway.

Hancock must return to the Downtown Detention Center where he will be processed and released from jail.

Kim’s wife, meanwhile, leaned her forehead against a bench for a long time after the verdict. He also is survived by one child.

Hancock picked up Kim in the early morning hours of June 1, 2018, from a karaoke bar where Kim had been hanging out with friends and drinking. The destination he requested was two miles away. But the pair ended up making a journey of more than 70 miles together before it ended in Kim being shot six times on Interstate 25 near the University Boulevard exit.

The Uber driver testified in court, saying Kim refused to get out of the car, so they kept driving. Hancock said Kim touched his leg inappropriately, and though Hancock made it clear he wasn’t interested, Kim did it two more times and tried to grab the steering wheel and gear shifter. So Hancock told Kim he was going to drop him off, and that’s when Kim began punching him, according to testimony.

The two continued fighting and Hancock said that he was trying to get away from Kim who continued to pursue him. After stopping on I-25 near the University Avenue exit, Hancock pulled out his semi-automatic handgun and shot at Kim 10 times. Six bullets struck him.

But prosecutors argued that the physical evidence did not match Hancock’s testimony. They said it was likely Kim did not get out of the car because he was so drunk he fell asleep and that Hancock decided to keep going to increase the ride fare. When Kim woke up, he may have been disoriented and started a fight, they said. However, how Kim was shot, where the blood was found in the vehicle and how Hancock appeared to tamper with evidence were proof that Hancock wasn’t being truthful, they argued.

Additionally, prosecutors said there’s no way Hancock could have believed that the force he used against Kim was adequate, based on the threat he posed. While defense attorneys pointed to witness testimony corroborating Hancock’s testimony, prosecutors questioned its veracity.

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