[By: Blair Miller]
The Uber driver who was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of his passenger in May 2018 was found not guilty by a jury on Thursday.
The not guilty verdict was handed down shortly after 11 a.m. after a day and a half of deliberations.
During the trial, which started last Monday, 31-year-old Michael Hancock’s attorney argued that he shot his passenger, Hyun Kim, 45, in self-defense after Kim allegedly attacked him while he was driving in the early-morning hours of June 1, 2018. Authorities said Hancock fired 10 shots at Kim and hit him six times.
Prosecutors had told the jury that the evidence from prosecutors did not back up his self-defense claim and tried to convince jurors that Hancock had committed premeditated murder when he got out of his vehicle after the car stopped, went to the passenger side and shot Kim.
Hancock testified during the trial that Kim attacked him when he threatened to pull over and kick Kim out of the car after he punched him and pulled his hair as he was driving.
Kim’s attorney claimed that after Hancock picked up Kim from an Aurora karaoke spot, where Kim was with friends, he took him to his stop a couple miles, but Kim did not get out, so he continued to drive. Stuart said Kim was heavily intoxicated during the ride.
An autopsy report showed Kim had a blood alcohol content level of .308 when the autopsy was performed at 9 a.m. on June 1 – more than three times the legal limit.
Prosecutors said Hancock drove more than 70 miles after the initial stop before getting back on to I-25 near University Boulevard – where the alleged attack occurred.
After Hancock shot Kim, a witness called 911 and Hancock at one point got on the phone and told dispatchers he had been attacked and asked for medical responders to hurry so Kim could stay alive, his defense argued.
Hancock’s attorney told the jury that they should keep an open mind and let evidence speak for itself – reminding them again that prosecutors had to prove that Hancock intended to kill Kim that night.
Neither prosecutors or Hancock’s attorneys immediately commented on the case after the verdict was announced. Hancock is expected to be released from jail on Thursday afternoon.
Kim’s attorneys in a statement Thursday said they intend to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Uber over the incident.
“The fact remains that the shooting could have been prevented if Uber had enforced one of its cardinal rules: drivers are not allowed to have a gun in the car,” attorney Francis Patrick Murphy said. “Hancock routinely violated this rule and Uber failed to enforce its policy.”