Uber driver held after fatal shooting of passenger in Denver

An Uber driver was taken into custody Friday morning after his passenger was shot and killed, Denver police said.

Michael Andre Hancock, 29, was being held in jail for investigation of first-degree murder, a police press release said.

According to a probable cause statement released by police, Denver 911 received a call about 2:45 a.m. from a man on an Interstate 25 on-ramp who said “There was a guy, an Uber driver, who said his ride tried to attack him and the driver shot him.”

The man handed the phone to the other man, who identified himself as Hancock, the statement said.

Police arrived and found a male lying on the front seat floorboard of a Nissan sedan with gunshot wounds, the statement said. He was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead, said Sonny Jackson of the Denver police.

Investigators found 10 spent .40-caliber cartridges on the left shoulder of the interstate and a blood trail near the cartridges that was consistent with where the vehicle came to a stop on the on-ramp, the statement said.

Hancock was handcuffed and police found a Ruger SR 40 pistol in his waistband, the statement said.

Police said, “There is probable cause to believe that Michael Hancock discharged the Ruger pistol, striking (the victim) numerous times causing his death,” the statement said.

Hancock had trouble breathing and was taken to a hospital, where he was treated and released. He declined to make a statement to police without a lawyer, police said.

The gunshot victim has not been publicly identified.

The investigation of the shooting caused southbound I-25 to be closed about five hours, CNN affiliate KDRV reported.

Uber issued this statement: “We are deeply troubled by the events in Denver today. Our thoughts are with the families of those involved. The driver’s access to the app has been removed, and we will continue working closely with police.”

Andrew Hasbun, an Uber spokesman, said Hancock had been driving nearly three years for the ride-sharing company. The incident appears to be associated with an on-app trip, he said.

Uber’s website says riders and drivers are prohibited from carrying firearms in a vehicle while using the Uber app, “to the extent permitted by applicable law.”

Hasbun said some states have laws that prohibit companies from telling people where they can and cannot carry firearms. However, Uber thinks its weapons policy applies in Colorado, he said.

Last year, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission fined Uber $8.9 million for allowing drivers with “disqualifying” criminal or motor vehicle offenses to drive for the company. Some of them did not have valid licenses and others used fake names, the PUC revealed.

In February, an Uber Eats driver in Atlanta was charged with murder in the death of a customer to whom he’d just delivered food, Atlanta police said.

The driver’s lawyer said the driver shot after the customer threatened him and reached into his pocket.