Colorado jury clears Uber driver in passenger’s shooting death

FILE - This file booking image provided by the Denver Police Department shows Michael Hancock. Hancock, an Uber driver charged with first-degree murder in the death of a passenger, shot the man in self-defense after he touched, punched and pulled his hair as he was speeding down an interstate, his lawyer told jurors Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019, during opening statements in his trial. (Denver Police Department via AP, File)
Michael Hancock. –Denver Police Department via AP, File

DENVER (AP) — A Colorado jury on Thursday found an Uber driver not guilty of murder in last year’s killing of a passenger that he said attacked him before he fired 10 shots at him.

Jurors sided with Michael Hancock, 31, who argued that he was defending himself against passenger Hyun (Huhn) Kim.

After the verdict was read, Hancock’s family hugged, sobbed and cried out in joy before leaving the courthouse without comment.

Hancock said Kim made unwanted sexual advances and attacked him when Hancock threatened to pull over during the June 2018 ride.

Prosecutors said Hancock jumped from the car and went to the front passenger side where Kim was sitting.

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Prosecutors said Hancock fired 10 bullets from his semi-automatic handgun, and at least five struck Kim.

They said Hancock didn’t suffer serious injuries and that he put a knife in 45-year-old Kim’s hands after shooting him to place his fingerprints on it.

Hancock testified that he put the knife, which he kept under his seat, in Kim’s hands to see if he was still alive.

The Colorado trial was one of a handful of criminal cases in the U.S. involving drivers who work for the ride-sharing company. Prosecutors in Albuquerque, New Mexico, have charged an Uber driver in the shooting death of a passenger during a dispute over vomit in the driver’s vehicle.

In North Carolina, another Uber driver is accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a female passenger in a case that is also pending.

The fatal Colorado ride began after Hancock picked up Kim at a karaoke bar. Kim’s original destination was 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) away. Surveillance video showed Hancock’s car arriving at that location. But Kim — who was drunk — did not get out of the car.

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