Lawyer: Uber driver killed passenger in self-defense |

Lawyer: Uber driver killed passenger in self-defense

Associated Press

DENVER — 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.

In opening arguments in Michael Hancock’s trial, Johnna Stuart said Hancock asked a driver who stopped to help to call 911 and then urged a dispatcher to send help to save Hyun (Huhn) Kim, 45, after shooting him on Interstate 25 in June 2018. In the chaotic 911 call she played, Hancock, now 31, said Kim reached for his pocket after punching him and he tried not to hurt Kim.

As the audio played for several minutes, Hancock leaned forward in his chair and looked down with a pained expression as some of his relatives and friends cried in the courtroom. At one point, he told the dispatcher that police had arrived and said “I’m black so I hope they don’t kill me bro.” One person in the audience laughed briefly as the crying continued.

However, prosecutors allege that Hancock planned to kill Kim, whom they say was drunk and for some reason did not get out of Hancock’s Nissan sedan when it arrived at his destination about 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) away from the karaoke bar where he was picked up. Records from Uber show the car continued to drive for about 70 miles (112.6 kilometers) around the Denver area before the shooting near an on ramp to I-25.

Hancock jumped out of the car, came around to the front passenger side, where Kim sat inside, and fired 10 bullets from his Ruger semi-automatic handgun down at him, Chief Deputy District Attorney Philip Reinert said. He said at least five bullets hit Kim, including one in his back. He said the killing was not self-defense and urged jurors to use their common sense during the trial.

Kim left behind a wife and son.

Police photographs taken after the shooting showed swelling above Hancock’s eyebrow, and autopsy photos showed bruises on Kim’s right hand.

Hancock, who is married and has two children, worked as an Uber driver to supplement his modest income from his job at a youth group home, a job that he saw as a way to carry out his Christian values to help others, Stuart said. She said he drove at night after his wife and children were asleep to avoid missing family time.

Categories: News | World
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.