The Uber driver who fatally shot a drunken passenger in Denver has been found not guilty of murder after insisting he opened fire in self defense.
The family of Michael Hancock, 31, cried out “hallelujah” in joy when the jury verdict was read on Thursday after 12 hours of deliberation.
Hancock had insisted the passenger, Hyun Soo Kim, 45, made an unwanted sexual pass at him while sitting in the front passenger seat during the 2008 ride.
Hancock said Kim then became violent when he threatened to pull over, punching him in the face and grabbing for the steering wheel as they drove 70 mph on a freeway.
The verdict came despite a wealth of incriminating evidence.
Prosecutors had argued that once the car came to a stop, Hancock had exited and was outside when he fired his handgun 10 times, striking Kim, who was still inside, six times.
Most of the bullets entered Kim’s body from behind, adding to Hancock’s culpability, prosecutors had argued.
Then there was the matter of a knife that Hancock said he kept under his seat.
Prosecutors said Hancock tried to bolster what they called a phony self-defense claim by putting the knife in the dying Kim’s hand to get his fingerprints on it.
Hancock admitted that before police arrived, he had put the knife in Kim’s hand but claimed he did so to test whether Kim was still alive.
Hancock had been charged with first-degree murder, and jurors had not been given the option of convicting him of any lesser charges, The Denver Post reported.
With Post wires