DENVER — The judge in the case of an Uber driver who is accused of shooting and killing a passenger during an in-app ride ruled Friday that there is enough evidence in the case to move forward with a first degree murder trial.
Michael Hancock, 29, is accused of shooting his passenger, 45-year-old Hyun Kim, just before 3 a.m. Friday, June 1, on Interstate 25 near the University Boulevard exit. The suspect is not related to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, his office confirmed.
Hancock's defense team argued he fired shots after Kim attacked him. Kim's blood alcohol was nearly four times the legal limit of alcohol intoxication for driving.
The judge ruled because Hancock fired 10 shots outside the car into the car, and because of the location of the bullet wounds on Kim’s body, there is enough evidence to move forward with the case.
The defense pointed out Hancock had swelling above his left eye, an abrasion on his inner lower lip, and redness near his collarbone. The victim had bruises on his right hand near his knuckles, according to court testimony.
Before the shooting, prosecutors argued Hancock continued to drive 71 miles beyond the destination where Kim originally wanted to go. Security camera footage shows Hancock’s car pulling up to the intended location at 2222 S. Havana St., but nobody exited the car.
After about 30 seconds, a detective testified the ride continued for another hour. There was no explanation for the extra driving offered in court.
Uber drivers can earn more money the longer a trip takes.
The judge said the self defense arguments would be more appropriate to argue at trial. Hancock is expected to be arraigned on his first degree murder charge Nov. 9.
Two patrol officers also testified at the hearing. Evidence presented at the hearing included audio from Officer Stephen Hansen’s body-worn camera. The camera footage captured Officer Hansen asking whether the victim had any weapons.
Hancock can be heard on the footage shouting out, “He had something in his pockets.”
The only items found inside the victim’s pockets were a wallet and a pack of cigarettes, according to testimony.
A second officer who testified, Christopher Wilcox, said, “He [Hancock] said he was attacked by his passenger.”
Wilcox also testified that he noticed swelling above Hancock’s right eye. Wilcox testified that Hancock was very cooperative and eventually had trouble breathing and was taken to the hospital by ambulance.
Wilcox said he recovered a 40-caliber hand gun from Hancock’s right waistband in a concealed holster. Wilcox also said he was able to see that Hancock had a conceal carry permit, which was observable in a photograph on Hancock’s cell phone. Hancock did not have the physical permit with him, Wilcox said during testimony.
Detective Aaron Lopez testified that 10 shell casings were found outside near the median between the north and southbound lanes of I-25.
Kim died of multiple gunshot wounds, according to Denver Office of the Medical Examiner.
Police arrested Hancock at 8 a.m. the same morning the incident occurred, June 1, according to the probable cause statement.
The court record said a witness near the on-ramp of I-25 and University called 911 a little before 2 a.m. Friday. That witness said an Uber driver told him his rider tried to attack him, and he shot him.
According to the court record, the witness handed the phone to the Uber driver, who identified himself as Michael Hancock.
The report says police found Kim on the floorboard of the front passenger seat suffering from gunshot wounds. Hancock later declined to speak with detectives without an attorney present, court records say.
Hancock did not have a prior criminal history, according to 9Wants to Know research. A court database shows Hancock had a couple of driving infractions including speeding tickets.