Judge admonishes Forrest as 30-year sentence given for shooting Aurora officer

Judge Kiesnowski said he hoped the sentence sent a message to Forrest and anyone else willing to shoot at law enforcement officers: “It is not open season on police officers."

BRIGHTON | An Adams County judge sentenced a man to 30 years in prison Tuesday, March 15, for shooting an Aurora police officer in 2014.

Before he sentenced Jahvell Forrest to three decades behind bars, Judge Robert Kiesnowski gave a blistering statement, telling Forrest his continued crime spree after the shooting — which included robberies and break-ins in Arapahoe County and stealing from other inmates at the jail — showed Forrest wasn’t truly sorry.

“This young man doesn’t give a damn about anyone but himself,” Kiesnowski said.

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Lucille Washington hugs a supporter after Judge Kiesnowski handed down a 30-year sentence for Jahvell Forrest Tuesday, March 15, 2016, at Adams County Justice Center. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel

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Jahvell Forrest enters the courtroom for his sentencing on Tuesday, March 15, 2016, at Adams County Justice Center. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel

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Officer Ryan Burns, who was shot by Jahvell Forrest, and his wife, Lanee Burns, during the sentencing on Tuesday, March 15, 2016, at Adams County Justice Center. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel

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Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz stands outside of the courtroom with other Aurora Police officers after Jahvell Forrest was sentenced Tuesday, March 15, 2016, to 30 years for shooting Officer Ryan Burns. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel

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Officer Ryan Burns testifies during Jahvell Forrest's sentencing on Tuesday March 15, 2016 at Adams County Justice Center. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel

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Jahvell Forrest wipes tears away from his eyes during his sentencing on Tuesday March 15, 2016 at Adams County Justice Center. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel

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Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz testifies during Jahvell Forrest's sentencing on Tuesday March 15, 2016 at Adams County Justice Center. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel

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Lanee Burns wipes a tear from her eyes as her husband, officer Ryan Burns, testifies on Tuesday March 15, 2016 at Adams County Justice Center. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel

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Lucille Washington, Jahvell Forrest's mother, holds his son during the sentencing on Tuesday March 15, 2016 at Adams County Justice Center. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel

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Jahvell Forrest reacts during his sentencing on Tuesday March 15, 2016 at Adams County Justice Center. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel

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Officer Ryan Burns and his wife Lanee Burns walk out of the courtroom after sentencing on Tuesday March 15, 2016 at Adams County Justice Center. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel

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Jahvell Forrest addresses the court during his sentencing on Tuesday March 15, 2016 at Adams County Justice Center. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel

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Lucille Washington cries as her son Jahvell Forrest testifies during his sentencing on Tuesday March 15, 2016 at Adams County Justice Center. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel

The judge said he hoped the sentence sent a message to Forrest and anyone else willing to shoot at law enforcement officers.

“It is not open season on police officers,” Kiesnowski said.

Burns, his wife and Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz had all asked Kiesnowski to give Forrest the maximum sentence, saying it would send a message.

“I can’t for sure say whether there is a war on cops right now,” Metz said. “But I can sure say it feels like it.”

Metz noted that he and many of the more than 40 police officers who packed the courtroom for the hearing were wearing black shrouds over their badges in honor of Park County Deputy Nate Carrigan, who was killed earlier this month in the line of duty.

The judge’s harsh statement stood in contrast to the statement from Burns, who said he is hopeful Forrest can turn his life around.

“Jahvell, I honestly and sincerely forgive you for what you’ve done to me,” he said.

Burns said after the sentencing that it was important for him as a Christian to forgive Forrest.

Forrest’s public defender, Emily Lieberman, asked the judge for a sentence short of the maximum, but said she agreed that a minimum sentence would be inappropriate.

She said Forrest had a toxic relationship with his ex-convict biological father, who she said encouraged him to steal a car the night of the shooting.

For his part, Forrest — wearing a jail jumpsuit with his hands and feet shackled — said he was sorry and wished he could take back what he did.

“I pray every night for Officer Burns that he can overcome this and forgive me,” Forrest said.

Forrest had been charged with attempted murder but a jury in February convicted him of a lesser manslaughter charge. That decision incensed the Aurora Police Association, the biggest union representing Aurora’s police officers.

APA President Sgt. Bob Wesner said he and many officers who attended the hearing Tuesday — the crowd of more than 40 uniformed officers filled the gallery and some were allowed to sit in the jury box while others were forced to stand — used vacation days to be there.

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