Denver Police Kept Pulling Over Sharod Kindell -- and the Last Time, They Shot Him

Denver Police Kept Pulling Over Sharod Kindell -- and the Last Time, They Shot Him

Friday, January 9, had been a good day for Sharod Kindell. The 23-year-old Denver native had sat down with potential investors for Raw Life, a clothing store and recording studio he was planning to open near East High School, and the meeting had gone well -- well enough that he thought he'd soon be able to add to the cash he was saving for an engagement ring for his longtime girlfriend, Chanel Cruz. He was about to start another semester at Metropolitan State University of Denver, too, and he was in a fine mood as he picked up Chanel from work, their three-year-old and seven-month-old daughters from daycare, and some Chinese takeout for dinner. The family had just sat down to eat in their Montbello home when Sharod got a call from his brother-in-law, who lived on Crown Boulevard, a few blocks away: Could Sharod come by the house with some baby formula?

While the others continued eating, Sharod, still wearing the black leather jacket and button-down dress shirt he'd put on for his business meeting earlier that day, drove to his brother-in-law's house, dropped off a can of formula, then headed home. He'd only gone a block when his phone rang; Sharod pulled into a driveway to answer. It was his brother-in-law again, asking him to pick up some food at Walmart. Sharod said he'd go later, hung up the phone and put the car in reverse. That's when he noticed that a police car had pulled up behind him on Crown, and two cops were approaching his car. See also: Jessica Hernandez Death -- Monitor Questions DPD Policy for Shooting Into Moving Cars

Sharod Kindell in the Denver Detention Center infirmary.
Sharod Kindell in the Denver Detention Center infirmary.
Anthony Camera

Getting pulled over was nothing new for Sharod; it seemed to happen all the time. As a teenager in north City Park, he'd had a well-paying job at Elitch Gardens and bought himself a 1988 Monte Carlo, fixing it up with a candy-blue paint job and nice rims. But the car, plus Sharod's dark skin and long braided hair, was a cop magnet. Police would stop him and accuse him of running stop signs and red lights that didn't exist, of having cracks in his windshield that no one could see. Many times, the officers never bothered to give a reason. Eventually, it got so bad that Sharod sold his Monte Carlo -- but his next car, a Chevrolet Caprice, wasn't any better. The cops came to know him, as if pulling him over was a regular thing: "What are you up to now, Sharod?" In total, Sharod estimates, he's been pulled over forty to fifty times.

Often, officers would tell Sharod to get out of the car and then search the vehicle, trashing it in the process -- pulling up his seats, puncturing his subwoofer, tearing up the photo of his late brother, Kurt. Sometimes Sharod would get so mad he'd argue with the cops, and one time he mouthed off at an officer -- but that just landed him a swollen face. (He says the complaint he filed with the Denver Police Department's Internal Affairs Bureau over the altercation never received a response.) His car was impounded again and again, and the traffic tickets for missed stop signs and playing music too loud piled up, so much so that a couple of years ago, Sharod lost his license. He didn't stop driving, though; his current ride, a gold Jeep Cherokee, came courtesy of a buddy who worked at Hertz and could get him good rental deals. Between his family and all his other ventures and responsibilities, Sharod needed a vehicle to get everything done.

And now, once again, cops were approaching his vehicle. But this time, Sharod told himself, he wasn't going to get mad. He was going to stay calm, get through this and get back to his family, still at the dinner table. It had been a good day; Sharod didn't want that to change.

"What are you doing around here?" asked the cop who approached the Jeep's rolled-down window, an officer named Jeffrey DiManna.

"Heading home," said Sharod, who then asked what the problem was. DiManna didn't give him an answer, just asked to see identification. When all Sharod could provide was his Metro State ID, DiManna told him to get out of the car.

"Officer, with all due respect, I am not going to get out of this truck," Sharod remembers telling him. "I didn't do anything wrong." He'd been taking criminal-justice classes at Metro; he knew his rights. He asked if he could call his mother on his cell phone, since she always seemed to know what to do in situations like this. When DiManna refused, Sharod told him to call his sergeant: When the superior officer arrived, Sharod said, he'd get out of the car.

At that point, Sharod recalls, DiManna and the other officer, Andrew Landon, pulled their weapons (a later probable-cause warrant notes that a third officer, Jacob Robb, was also at the scene, but Sharod didn't see him). When Sharod put his hands up, DiManna reached through the driver-side window and unlocked the door, then opened it. Sharod saw Landon, meanwhile, opening the rear door right behind him. With his left hand, Sharod tried to pull the driver's door closed, but DiManna yanked it open again. Sharod looked into DiManna's eyes, looked at the handgun he was pointing at him, and suddenly knew he was going to be shot.

"Please, officer, don't shoot, don't shoot!" Sharod screamed. DiManna grabbed Sharod's left hand and began pulling him out of the car. But his car was still in reverse, Sharod says, and when his foot slipped off the brake, the Jeep began rolling down the driveway, the open doors hitting DiManna and Landon. That's when DiManna opened fire. In the chaos, Sharod landed on the ground in the snow as the Jeep rolled backwards and crashed into the parked police car. Sharod could feel burning in his right arm, and when he looked down at his right hand, blood was everywhere. Desperate to get away, desperate to live, he pulled himself up and began running, even as he heard more shots being fired. Mid-stride, he felt something explode in his groin, the worst pain he'd ever felt, like a balloon had swollen to its breaking point between his legs.

He kept going, running to a nearby house to find help, before collapsing near a parked car. Blood was squirting from his leg, and it became harder and harder to breathe. He could hear the cops calling out for him, trying to find him, but then reality began to slip away. It was like he was watching a movie: He could see white gates and a crowd of people screaming his name. "Sharod, come on, run!" they yelled. But then he turned his head, looking back, and he could see his daughters and his little brother playing at the park. He looked at the gates and then glanced back again, and there was his three-year-old daughter, close to his face. "Daddy, come play," she told him.

But he couldn't reach her. It was like a strong wind was blowing him toward the gates and pulling him farther and farther away.

Continue for more about the police shooting of Sharod Kindell.  

Sherri Landrum
Sherri Landrum
Anthony Camera

Sherri Landrum, Sharod's mother, got a text from Chanel later that evening, while Sherri was attending a late-night choir rehearsal. Chanel wanted to know if Sherri had heard from her son: Sharod hadn't returned home after dropping off the baby formula at his brother-in-law's house, nor had he responded to any of Chanel's texts or calls. Worse, Chanel had just come across a disturbing news item posted online, and she sent Sherri a link. An unnamed suspect had been shot and wounded by police in Montbello, and a photo of the crime scene that accompanied the story featured a Jeep that looked like the one Sharod had been driving.

"Immediately my heart said, 'Something is wrong,'" remembers Sherri. She had learned to trust such instincts; she and her family were no strangers to tragedy. In 2003, Sherri's second-oldest daughter, Ruthie Landrum, was shot while sitting on the porch of a friend's house, the bullet shattering her kneecap. A year later, Sherri's oldest son, Kurt Levias, was killed outside the Bluebird Theater. He'd been at a rap concert, acting as a bodyguard for his cousin, local rapper Twyla Rivers, aka Lady Menace, when a brawl broke out. Kurt was shot when the fight spilled into the street and he'd come to the aid of one of his sisters. It took more than ten years and a segment on America's Most Wanted before detectives got a break in the case; in March 2014, George "Simm Ryder" Allen IV was arrested and charged with Kurt's murder. He's now awaiting trial on homicide charges, but Sherri has already made peace with her son's killer. Soon after Kurt's murder, she says, God came to her and told her, "You have to forgive him so I can do my work through you."

Kurt Levias Jr., Sharod's oldest brother, was killed outside the Bluebird.
Kurt Levias Jr., Sharod's oldest brother, was killed outside the Bluebird.
courtesy Sherri Landrum

By the time Allen was arrested, though, Sherri and her family were reeling from another murder close to home. In December 2013, Gregory McCoy, Sherri's common-law husband of four years, was shot and killed in a triple shooting in Aurora that also took the life of Martel Thomas (Kenneth Mackey, who already had a lengthy rap sheet, is scheduled to go to trial for both homicides). Then, late last year, Sherri's nephew, Devin Gomez, was killed in a rollover accident on I-25.

"We've been through a lot," acknowledges Sherri. But somehow, through it all, the family has held together, gathering at barbecues and birthday parties packed with brothers and sisters and aunts and cousins. Sherri's the heart of the family, the powerful nucleus, the one with the ever-present smile and laugh who'll go to any length to protect her children. For years, she chased down leads in Kurt's murder. And at a rally against violence in northeast Denver in 2012, she stood up and told the crowd, "The guns have to stop, the killings have to stop, these mothers have to stop this grieving.... A mother shouldn't have to feel this pain over and over again."

Sharod has always been an integral figure in the clan. The fourth-youngest of Sherri's nine children, he was the brother who stepped into Kurt's shoes after Kurt was killed. He used money from his Elitch's job to help his mother pay bills, picked up prescriptions for his grandmother, made sure his younger siblings worked hard at school and athletics -- just as he had, earning a 3.5 GPA, becoming a star on the football field and helping the Denver North Vikings basketball team make the state playoffs before graduating in 2009. "He has always been there for me, always stood up for me, always made sure I was on the right path," says Sharod's younger brother Donald Landrum, who is studying business and finance at College of the Sequoias in California. "After my brother passed, it was all on him."

Sharod's protective instincts intensified once he had children of his own. His own father had disappeared from his life when he was seven or eight, and he was determined that his own children would grow up knowing their dad. He insists on taking his kids to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus every time the show's in town, and refuses to leave his daughters with babysitters if their homes don't meet his stringent cleanliness standards. On Mother's Day last year, Sharod posted on his Facebook page, "Happy 'fmathers' day to all the real fathers that's out here takin' care of their child/children on their own!"

"I can't put enough of an emphasis on how great of a dad he is," says Chanel, who's been with Sharod for six years.

Being a father isn't Sharod's only interest; beyond his day job doing maintenance at an apartment complex, he's always juggling multiple undertakings. Writing and recording his own music. Working out and playing basketball with the kids at the Glenarm Recreation Center. Buying and selling Air Jordans. Helping to run a medical marijuana dispensary for a few years. Developing his Raw Life clothing line. And fixing up cars, just as Kurt had. In his back yard, Sharod has the 1980 Malibu his oldest brother was working on before he was murdered, and he wants to finish it just as Kurt had planned: a new engine, a bright-green paint job, tan interior with green piping and, stitched into the back seat, the names of all their friends and family members who've been killed.

Over the past few years, though, some of Sharod's many plans have been sidetracked because of increasingly serious troubles with the law. Although he lost his license, he never stopped driving -- and never stopped getting pulled over. In March 2013, one of those stops, in Weld County, ended with Sharod getting tasered and charged with eluding police, possessing marijuana and other crimes, for which he received three years' probation. Then, in November 2013, an officer in Aurora chased him down while he was out with his daughter and accused him of speeding. The ensuing dispute led to Sharod being charged with assaulting a police officer, child abuse and other crimes; that case is still pending.

Sharod insists that he wasn't in the wrong in these cases, arguing that they're just more examples of the authorities picking on him. And Chanel insists that these marks on her boyfriend's record don't mean he's a bad person. "Sharod has gotten into some trouble recently, but he is not a bad guy," she says. "He's not a gang member, robbing and selling drugs. He's not a menace to society or anything like that."

Donald Landrum (left) with Sherri and Sharod.
Donald Landrum (left) with Sherri and Sharod.
Courtesy of Sherri Landrum

Yes, some of his recent run-ins with the cops have led to major incidents -- but after all the times he's been pulled over by the police, his friends and family think Sharod has become so traumatized that he doesn't know how to act around them anymore. "I've been traumatized by how many times the cops have stopped him," says younger brother Donald. "We have really been through it with the police for no reason at all."

"Honestly," Chanel adds, "I think Sharod is fearful of the police." She's experienced that fear herself. Back in 2009, Denver police pulled her over while Sharod was in the passenger seat. The officers didn't give a reason for stopping her, she says, but they noticed Sharod and asked for his ID. After checking their system, they said Sharod had an outstanding warrant, so they took him out of the car, searched his clothes, then put him in the back of their squad car; that was the first time he'd been arrested. Then they pulled Chanel out of her car and searched her vehicle, she remembers, asking her, "Why are you with a guy like that?"

"I had bruises up my left arm from them pulling me out of my car," says Chanel. "I was so scared I went to the bathroom on myself." She immediately filed a complaint with the department's Internal Affairs Bureau, but later received a letter concluding that the police actions were justified -- even though there was no record of an outstanding warrant for Sharod, according to the Internal Affairs investigator who first interviewed Chanel. (Sharod says it was for a traffic ticket he'd already paid.)

"I never experienced racial profiling until I was with Sharod," says Chanel. "It's changed my outlook on certain things. I am kind of scared when I see police now."

Lately, Sharod had been working to get his life on track -- passing his court-ordered sobriety and drug tests, regularly checking in with the Arapahoe County pre-trial officer assigned to monitor his behavior, never forgetting his obligations to his kids and the rest of his family, Chanel says. But suddenly, on the night of January 9, all of their plans seemed to be at risk. Where was Sharod? Was he the shooting victim mentioned on the news? Had he once again been pulled over by the cops -- but this time with far more disastrous consequences?

Continue for more about the police shooting of Sharod Kindell.  

Sharod Kindell at the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center infirmary.
Sharod Kindell at the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center infirmary.
Anthony Camera

Chanel drove to the crime scene that she'd read about online, but the officers there wouldn't tell her anything. After a long night of frantic phone calls and Facebook posts, Chanel, Sherri and other family members went to Denver Health Medical Center and were told that, yes, Sharod had been admitted to the ER the night before -- but that was all hospital personnel would say. No one would talk about his condition or allow family members to see him.

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"At this point, I'm yelling, 'Somebody tell me what happened to my son! What did they do to my baby?'" remembers Sherri. Eventually, she was told that the police wouldn't let the hospital release any information. Sharod's Denver Health medical records from the night he was admitted note, "...we actually are not allowed by the Denver police to contact his family at this time."

That wasn't the only way the DPD was stonewalling all inquiries regarding Sharod. When Chanel called the District 5 police station, which serves Montbello and other parts of northeast Denver, and asked about Sharod, she says that all she was told was, "He's breathing, ain't he?" And in a follow-up online article about the shooting on Monday, January 12, the Denver Post identified Sharod as the victim, but later removed his name -- because the police had said he was a seventeen-year-old boy, and the paper typically doesn't identify juvenile suspects. "They know everything about Sharod," says his mother. "They know his age. Why didn't they put it in the paper? To me, it seemed like a cover-up."

Meanwhile, Sharod's family had finally heard from him -- thanks to a phone call he was allowed to make to his mother on Sunday evening, two days after he was pulled over. "Mom, they shot me for no reason," Sharod told her between tears. "They were trying to kill me. I didn't do anything wrong, Mom. I didn't have any reason for them to pull me over."

Sharod told her that he had been shot three times while he was still in the car: in the right hand, fracturing several fingers; in the right biceps; and in the left thigh, which had damaged his femoral artery. Fragments from the bullet in his leg had also injured his groin, where there was still an open, bleeding wound, but hospital staff had moved him from the intensive-care unit to the hospital's Correctional Care Medical Facility, where inmates are cared for. "If his injuries are so bad, why did they move him from the ICU?" asks his mother. "If he was still bleeding out, why was he in the correctional facility?"

No one was answering Sherri's questions; no one was allowed to visit Sharod. Finally, after Sherri had logged numerous angry phone calls to the Denver police and the Denver Sheriff's Department, which staffs Denver Health's correctional facility, Pastor George Roberts, a friend of the family, was allowed a ministerial visit with Sharod on Thursday, January 15, six days after the shooting. "I wasn't in there three minutes," says Roberts. "All I was able to do was stand and pray with him. The captain stood at the door to make sure I didn't talk to him or ask him any questions. I have been going in and out of the hospital for eighteen years praying for inmates. This has never happened to me before."

But some of the restrictions around Sharod were beginning to be lifted. On January 16, Chanel and Shauna Landrum, Sharod's aunt, were allowed to visit him at the hospital. They were directed to the facility's visitation room, where Sharod, weak and disheveled, slouched in a wheelchair behind a glass-walled divider. His right hand, his dominant one, was wrapped in bandages and threaded with metal wires, and they could see liquid dripping from the wheelchair. "He was crying as hard as I've seen him cry in his whole life," says Shauna. "He kept saying, 'This isn't me. This isn't my life. I keep thinking I'm going to wake up.'"

Sherri was scheduled to see her son at the hospital the following Monday, January 19. But not long before her visit, she learned that he was no longer there. He'd been transferred to the infirmary at the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center downtown -- but according to Sharod, no one had bothered to arrange medical transport for him. Over the phone, he told his mother that the guards had put him in the back seat of a standard police vehicle, even though he still had an open wound in his groin.

Sherri finally saw her son on January 20 -- in Denver County Court, during his first advisement hearing. Sharod was in a wheelchair, and he didn't look good. "I could see he was in so much pain," says his mother. "He was swaying back and forth, sweating real bad." After a two-hour wait, the judge called Sharod's case, advising him of his rights and setting his bond at $10,000. Two days later, however, at Sharod's second court hearing, his bond was increased to $50,000. That's when Sharod and his family learned the charges he was facing, including first- and second-degree assault for striking the police officers with the car and aggravated motor-vehicle theft because a Hertz representative had said the Jeep was supposed to be in a recall lot and not rented to anyone. Sharod was also charged with possession of marijuana with intent to manufacture or distribute, thanks to a bag of pot that police had found in the car. (Sharod, who has his medical marijuana license, says he was using the pot to make edibles for a family member who'd had back surgery.) Finally, Sharod was charged with being a previous offender in possession of a gun, although there was no mention of police finding a gun in Sharod's original probable-cause warrant; for legal reasons, Sharod and his family won't comment on this last charge.

None of Sharod's charges were related to why he was pulled over in the first place. According to Denver DA spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough, "It appears that the vehicle had run a stop sign."

Continue for more about the police shooting of Sharod Kindell.  

Jessica Hernandez
Jessica Hernandez
Facebook via New York Daily News

Sharod Kindell's case and condition attracted little attention -- until Monday, January 26, when Denver cops shooting at moving vehicles suddenly became major news. Early that morning, Denver police shot at a stolen car in Park Hill, killing the driver, a seventeen-year-old girl named Jessica Hernandez. That evening, a crowd gathered for a candlelight vigil outside Antioch Church of God in Christ, near where the shooting had occurred. Among those at the gathering were members of Sharod's family and his friends. After community leaders condemned the shooting of Jessica and her friends paid their respects, Shauna, Sharod's aunt, spoke up.

"My nephew was shot on January 9 in Montbello," she told the crowd. "They didn't even have a reason to pull him over.... This could have been us down here, holding a vigil over his death."

Sharod Kindell and Jessica Hernandez aren't the only people who've recently been shot by Denver cops while they were behind the wheel. Since mid-2014, Denver police have been involved in two other moving-vehicle shootings: In November, two Denver cops were involved in the shooting and injury of Joel and Carlos Jurado during a traffic stop in Commerce City after police said Joel, who was driving, had tried to hit them with the car. And in July, Ryan Ronquillo was killed by officers outside the Romero Family Funeral Home; police said they'd fired after Ronquillo had hit two officers and several police vehicles as he tried to escape in a stolen vehicle.

Two of these cases have something in common beyond being vehicle-related shootings: Jeffrey DiManna, the Denver cop who shot Sharod, was one of the four officers who fired on Ronquillo.

Four shootings of drivers in seven months, two of which involved the same officer? Adding up the numbers, last week Nicholas Mitchell, the city's independent monitor, released a statement announcing that his office was evaluating the Denver Police Department's policies and practices related to shooting at moving vehicles. Denver police chief Robert White also said he's launched a review of the incidents in question.

This isn't the first time that the DPD's treatment of moving vehicles has come under scrutiny. In 2004, as part of a general overhaul of the department's entire use-of-force standards triggered by the controversial police shooting death of Paul Childs, a fifteen-year-old with a developmental disability, the department adopted rules that, among other things, stipulated that shooting at moving vehicles was prohibited "except in self-defense or defense of another from what the officer reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of deadly physical force." But two years later, after a series of questionable incidents involving officers firing at moving cars, the Office of the Independent Monitor concluded in its annual review that the police department had difficulty enforcing the policy and should consider banning virtually all use of weapons against moving vehicles.

While the DPD didn't go that far, it did strengthen the policy following the recommendations of a 2008 outside assessment of the department's use of force. The new rules stipulated that the immediate threat of a moving vehicle wasn't enough to justify a shooting; the officer also had to have "no reasonable alternative course of action to prevent death or serious physical injury."

But in the wake of these four recent vehicle-related shootings, some critics are wondering whether Denver police were properly informed of the new rules -- or just chose to ignore them. "These cases raise very serious questions about whether the Denver police are complying with this strict policy, which says, 'Don't shoot, move out of the way if at all possible,' and raises questions as to whether the Denver police have effectively retrained its officers on that policy," says Mark Silverstein, legal director of the ACLU of Colorado. And even if they were properly trained, perhaps Denver's current policy isn't strict enough, he suggests: Many major police departments, including those of Anchorage, Miami Beach, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles, have issued rules stipulating that moving vehicles should no longer be considered deadly weapons.

The shooting of Sharod Kindell raises questions about the DPD's current stance on moving vehicles. Was Sharod using his car in a way that was an immediate threat to the officers involved? And did the cops have no other reasonable course of action other than to open fire?

The officers' version of events seems to support their actions. According to the probable-cause warrant issued for Sharod following the shooting, Sharod started the Jeep after the officers asked him to get out of the car, and then, when DiManna opened the driver's-side door, put the car in reverse and stepped on the gas, hitting DiManna and Landon with his open door and pushing them into their parked police car. Only then, notes the warrant, did DiManna withdraw his weapon and fire five rounds.

Sharod disputes this account. "I never stepped on the gas," he says. "Why would I do something like that? I am not trying to hurt anybody. When they pulled me out, that's when the car went in reverse and the doors hit them." He also insists that the cops had drawn their weapons while he was still in the car: "If I started the car, put it in reverse and hit the gas, they would have shot me then."

It's hard to verify either version. While the Denver Police Department plans on equipping all of its traffic and patrol officers with body cameras this year, currently only District 6 officers have such cameras, says police spokesman Sonny Jackson, and Sharod was shot in District 5. What's more, there's no video recording of the incident from the officers' car. According to a 2012 survey by the Police Executive Research Forum, nearly three-quarters of all U.S. police departments have outfitted some or most of their patrol vehicles with in-car cameras; the DPD is among the departments that don't have such equipment.

But there is at least one other eyewitness to the incident: twenty-year-old Sandy Garcia, a resident of the house where Sharod had pulled into the driveway, and who watched much of what transpired from an upstairs window. She says she didn't see the officers grab at Sharod while he was in the driver's seat, which supports the officers' version of events: "I am pretty sure I didn't see any officer pulling him out." But she also says that Sharod's car door wasn't open when his car started moving backwards -- and she didn't observe any part of the vehicle hitting the cops. As the car rolled down the driveway, she says, the cops drew their weapons and started firing -- at which point she ducked down, and so didn't see what happened next.

"It looked like he was trying to escape, but I'm not sure," Sandy says of Sharod. But even if he was trying to flee, the police didn't seem to be in immediate danger, with no alternative but to shoot him. "I think they could have handled the situation differently than pulling their guns," she adds.

Sharod's family members point to hard evidence that supports his version of what happened: the bullet holes all over his body. If the cops fired on him through his car's open window, as Sandy Garcia says, how could he have been hit in the left thigh? Then there was the bullet through his hand. How could he have been hit like that if he had his hands on the wheel, trying to get away, as the police suggest?

"He had to have his hands up. He wouldn't have been shot like that without his hands up," says Shauna Landrum, raising her hands above her head to illustrate her point. "Hands up, don't shoot."

"If you are wearing that badge, your duty is to uphold the law, not tear it down," says Sharod's mother. "I know all policemen are not bad...but the police right now, their reputation is horrible to me. There are a lot of good cops out there. I applaud them because they do their jobs to the fullest. But some of them don't care. Some of them have the badge to be bullies."

Continue for more about the police shooting of Sharod Kindell.  

Sharod Kindell with the car that first got him stopped by the cops.
Sharod Kindell with the car that first got him stopped by the cops.

Sharod Kindell sits in a plastic chair in a cinder-block interview room in the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center's infirmary, his right arm swathed in thick bandages. This is one of the first times he's left his cell without using a wheelchair. It's not easy for him to move about on his own, but he's worried that if he doesn't start pushing himself, he might never walk right again -- much less get back on a basketball court or football field.

There are good days and bad days, he says. It's not easy spending 23 hours a day in an infirmary cell, without the company of other inmates or even a TV to pass the time. All he has to break the monotony is a Bible that he was given and the single collect phone call he's allowed each day. Sometimes he has trouble handling it all, like the time last week when he called his mother and was at his breaking point. "He said, 'Mama, I'm giving up. I wish they had just killed me,'" recalls Sherri. "I have never heard him talking like that before." But other times, like when Chanel and his daughters recently came for a visit, he feels more hopeful.

Sharod doesn't know what the future holds for him. He doesn't know what will happen with his previous criminal cases: the Weld County case, for which he's still on probation, and the Arapahoe County case, which is scheduled to go to trial next month. He doesn't know how he's going to deal with the new charges stemming from the night he was shot -- how he's going to afford a capable lawyer or how he's going to post bond, which was increased last week to $75,000. He's due in court again next Tuesday, February 10. His family has launched a "Bring Sharod Home" funding campaign at Fundme.com, but he's worried that won't be enough.

Nor does he have much hope that DiManna, the officer who shot him, will ever face charges for what he did on the night of January 9, the second time in six months that DiManna has fired at someone in a moving vehicle. While the Denver District Attorney's Office investigates all incidents in which a Denver officer shoots someone, it hasn't charged an officer for a shooting since 1992.

Still, Sharod is grateful to be alive; he knows how close he came to following in the footsteps of his brother Kurt and all the others his family has lost. "They almost took my life, man," he says, tears in his eyes. "If I didn't see my daughter saying, 'Daddy, come play,' I think I would have given up.'"

He didn't give up, though, and now he just wants to get back to his life. "I just want to be with my family and to run my business and to finish school," he says.

That, and he wants the cops to stop pulling him over. Yes, he's made mistakes. Yes, maybe he's acted inappropriately around the police in the past, and maybe he did so on January 9 -- but did that mean he deserved to be shot? The way he sees it, the police started it: He's sure he hadn't run a stop sign, so it was just one more time that he was stopped for nothing more than the way he looked.

"I am sick of it," he says. "I am sick inside. I want to throw up. I hate my look. The only reason I don't cut my hair is that my older brother said, 'Don't ever cut your hair.'" Sharod's long braids are the one thing he has left that connects him to Kurt, and family connections are the only thing that really count.

"I gotta get my family away from all this stuff," Sharod says. "I don't have no problem with the police. I just want them to leave me alone."

Have a tip? E-mail editorial@westword.com.


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