By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
Havens didn't want Vicenec there. He was worried Brewster might pull something, he says, maybe try to rob them, so he decided to go alone. The guy kept calling, pushing for a meet. At close to half-past five in the evening, Havens pulled off I-70 and headed into the SuperTarget lot.
Brewster had said he'd be in a blue Blazer behind the store. Havens spotted the Blazer -- which, behind tinted windows, actually contained two police officers -- backed into a spot in a tight corner of the lot. He made a wide turn and was in the process of pulling up next to the vehicle when the two designated pin cars, a Silverado and a white K2500 pickup, moved in. Other DMATT vehicles sealed off the perimeter.
According to multiple officer accounts given to shoot team investigators that evening, Havens reacted before the pin cars could reach their intended position. He put the Audi in reverse and backed into the Silverado, then shot forward, ramming the Blazer on the passenger side. The lot was icy, but the all-wheel-drive Audi had surprising traction, actually pushing around the larger vehicles attempting to box it in.
"He was going back and forth, hitting their car, my car," Arvada SWAT officer C.J. Bickmore, who was sitting in the passenger seat of the Blazer, told investigators. "I bet he hit our car three to four times good."
Colorado State Parks investigator Brian Sandy, who was driving the white pickup, responded by T-boning the Audi, driving it back into a snowbank. Thinking the suspect had been pinned, Sandy and his passenger, case detective Bill Johnson, hopped out of the truck and headed toward the Audi, planning to smash the windows and use a taser on the driver.
Sandy managed to smash the passenger window with a crescent wrench. But the Audi began to spin out of the snowbank, even as other vehicles arrived to try to complete the pin. It fishtailed around nearly ninety degrees, until it was now parallel to the Blazer, facing outward, its right front wheel hung up against the side of the white pickup.
Johnson, who had set out for the driver's window with taser in hand, was now in front of the lurching car, trying to keep his footing amid the ice and slush. Backpedaling and sliding, yelling at the driver to put the car in park, he found his exit cut off by another undercover vehicle, which had pulled up behind the pickup.
"I'm about ready to hit the ground, and this son of a bitch is about ready to run my ass over," Johnson told the shoot team later that night. "I got no place to go."
The Audi was rocking against the side of the pickup, its engine racing, back wheels spinning in an arc. If the right front wheel broke free of the pickup, Johnson was directly in the car's path.
"The first thing I thought is, 'I got a front row seat...I'm gonna watch Bill Johnson get killed,'" Bickmore recalled. "The car is now, I would say, no more than five feet from him, and all four wheels are squealing."
Johnson shifted his taser from one hand to another and drew his Glock. He fired into the Audi nine times, emptying the magazine. He went to reload and dropped the fresh clip on the ground. The car was still rocking back and forth, engine racing, tires spinning, but it seemed "pretty obvious" to one of the officers "that it's not being driven really at this point. It's like the accelerator is stuck, but it's still trying to move."
Other officers surrounded the Audi, smashed the windows and turned off the ignition. Havens was lying slumped in the driver's seat, bleeding heavily and screaming that he couldn't move. His right foot was jammed on the gas pedal, his arms limp at his sides.
Havens denies ramming any of the cars. He claims that the Silverado hit him from behind, forcing his car into the Blazer, and that after he was struck by the pickup he lost control of the car entirely.
"I never had a chance to run," he says now. "As soon as I pulled into that parking lot, they hit me. I only had one arm, and after they hit me I couldn't move my right arm at all. I couldn't put the car in park. The steering wheel was going all crazy.
"I flew forward, and then it felt like somebody punched me in the chest. I fell against the car door. I was trying to look out the window, and I had this throbbing pain in my neck. Then they smashed the window and glass shattered all over, and they screamed, 'Freeze, motherfucker! Shut the car off!' I told them I couldn't move. I asked them to please move my neck."
His version is contradicted by the accounts of half a dozen police eyewitnesses. At least two of those witnesses, including Johnson, say they made eye contact with Havens as he was ramming cars, spinning around, looking for an escape route and ignoring their orders. But other accounts leave some doubt about the exact sequence of events -- whether Havens was still in control of the car after getting rammed by the pickup, for example, or whether it was the bullets that finally stopped him.