AURORA | The Aurora police officers’ union is calling an Adams County jury’s decision to convict a man who shot an Aurora police officer of lesser charges “a miscarriage of justice.”
Jahvell Forrest, 21, was convicted last week of attempted manslaughter for shooting Aurora police Officer Ryan Burns in the leg during a November 2014 traffic stop in north Aurora. Prosecutors had charged Forrest with attempted murder, but the jury returned a conviction on the lesser charge.
In a statement Monday, Feb. 8, Aurora Police Detective Bob Wesner, president of the Aurora Police Association, said the jury’s verdict was a shock.
“Somehow the jury was led to believe that the actions of the defendant … were reckless in nature rather than a blatant attempt to murder and seriously injure the uniformed police officer he shot,” the statement said.
Wesner said the union was especially disappointed that Judge Robert Walker Kiesnowski Jr. barred officers from wearing their uniforms in the courtroom.
“The judge’s decision to ban uniformed officers from the courtroom was a slap in the face to all of law enforcement professionals who proudly wear their uniform and (bear) the duty, integrity and professionalism it resembles,” the statement said.
Forrest was also convicted of second-degree assault of Burns, attempted manslaughter of Officer Dale Leonard, attempted second-degree assault of Leonard, felony menacing of Leonard and first-degree aggravated motor vehicle theft.
His sentencing is set for March.
The APA is asking uniformed officers to attend the sentencing hearing.
Burns was wounded in the leg and police said he only survived because his partner, Officer Leonard, quickly used a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. Police said Burns needed five liters of blood during his hospital stay.
Burns survived his injuries, but Aurora police spokesman Sgt. Chris Amsler said Burns just returned to full active duty in December, more than a year after the shooting.
In a preliminary hearing last year police testified that Forrest’s then-17-year-old brother told investigators that Forrest was “scared and had no choice,” but to shoot at police when they pulled him over driving a stolen car that night.
In addition to being behind the wheel of a stolen car, Forrest had a .40-caliber handgun and multiple active warrants for his arrest, police said.
Police said surveillance footage showed Forrest and his brother inside a Family Dollar store on the corner of East Colfax Avenue and Galena Street just before Forrest stole a Volkswagen Passat that was left running in front of the store.
A short time later, Burns and Leonard spotted the car facing the wrong direction nearby. The vehicle took off and the officers spotted it again near Fulton Street and East 17th Avenue. The officers were approaching the car when someone inside opened fire, striking Burns in the leg, police said.
Forrest was questioned by an Aurora police officer while exiting a perimeter set up shortly following the shooting, but he used a fake name and was let through.