On January 9, Sharod Kindell, a 23-year-old Denver native who’d had repeated run-ins with the police, was shot in his vehicle and severely wounded by Denver police officer Jeffrey DiManna. Kindell’s story, which we told in "Hands Up, Don't Shoot," our February 5 cover piece, has helped inspire growing discontent over recent Denver police actions. While Kindell and his family insist he did nothing wrong, the Denver District Attorney’s Office concluded on March 6 that DiManna’s actions were legally justified. And just three days earlier, less than a week after he’d posted a $75,000 bond for his January arrest, Kindell was busted for false imprisonment — for allegedly refusing to let an escort he’d hired leave.
According to Kindell, on January 9 he was near the Montbello home that he shares with his fiancée and two children, running an errand in the Jeep that a friend had rented for him, when he pulled into a driveway to answer his cell phone. That’s when he saw DiManna and another officer approach. DiManna asked Kindell to step out of the car; when he refused, he says, DiManna drew his weapon, and then, after Kindell put his hands up, opened the driver-side front door. Kindell tried to pull the door closed with his left hand, he continues, but DiManna yanked it open again — and then grabbed his hand and began pulling him out of the car. But the car was in reverse at the time, and when Kindell’s foot slipped off the brake, the Jeep began rolling down the driveway. The open door hit DiManna and an officer behind him, and that’s when DiManna opened fire. Kindell was hit three times while still in the car: in his right hand, fracturing several fingers; in his right biceps; and in his left thigh, damaging his femoral artery and his groin.
When Kindell was shot in January, it was the third time in six months that Denver police had fired on a moving vehicle — and three weeks later, they shot at another vehicle, killing seventeen-year-old Jessica Hernandez. DiManna, the officer who shot Kindell, had also been involved in the first of those incidents, when Ryan Ronquillo was shot and killed in a stolen car on July 2, 2014. And DiManna was on the scene when Joel and Carlos Jurado were shot in their vehicle at a truck depot in Commerce City in November. In August, the Denver district attorney cleared DiManna and all other officers involved in the shooting of Ronquillo; two weeks ago, the Adams County district attorney determined that Denver officer Martin Tritschler was justified in firing on the Jurado brothers in Commerce City. The Denver DA’s decision letter in the Hernandez shooting is still pending.
But the DA’s decision letter on Kindell’s shooting recounts a slightly different version of the events of January 9. According to DiManna, as well as Andrew Landon and Jacob Robb, two other officers on the scene (one of whom Kindell says he never saw), Kindell turned on the car, put it in reverse and tried to escape. According to Landon’s testimony to the DA’s office: “At this point Officer DiManna and I were, I believe, were both inside, uh, the interior of the door where it was open. Officer DiManna has the suspect at gunpoint. I grabbed, I attempted to grab him to remove him from the car but during this whole opening and closing the doors he had, uh, turned on the car — cuz he had initially turned it off. Um, as I was trying to remove him from the car he, ah, I saw him put the car into reverse. At this point I was just gonna try to attempt to get out of the way but he started to reverse.”
DiManna provided a similar story to the DA’s office: “[The engine] revs up, he, ah, gets it into reverse and, at a high rate of speed — without time to react the door catches me, and I’m kind of holding on to him and trying to sidestep as we’re going in reverse. And he’s traveling at a high rate of speed — I think he caught Officer Landon with me as well, in the door, uh, there was no way for me to, to roll out or spin out. If I woulda dropped to the ground he’s angling out, I would have been caught by his tires, perhaps been killed by his actions.”
According to the DA’s decision letter, this was when DiManna opened fire, firing four shots. He fired a fifth moments later when “it appeared to him Kindell could have continued to back up and away but, instead, it appeared Kindell was trying to shift gears. Officer DiManna was now standing directly in front of the Jeep and he believed Kindell was about to drive forward and strike him. He fired another shot at Kindell through the front windshield. Kindell got out of the vehicle and started to run leaving the Jeep’s motor running.”
Soon after, Kindell was found lying nearby and was taken to Denver Health Medical Center. Denver police, meanwhile, were informed by a representative of Hertz, the company that owned the Jeep, that the vehicle was supposed to be in a recall lot and not rented to anyone. In the Jeep, investigators found $3,498 in cash, 150 grams of marijuana, an “artificial penis attached to a jock strap with a pouch attached to it that contained a yellow liquid substance,” “a small box labeled One Quick Fix Synthetic Urine Kit” and “paperwork with what appeared to be urinalysis results for UA testing with the name Sharod Kindell, with results showing [negative results].” They also found a loaded .40-caliber Sig-Sauer semi-automatic pistol that had been reported stolen in November 2014, plus an additional magazine.
While the DA’s office concluded that “under applicable Colorado law, no criminal charges are fileable against Officer DiManna,” Sherri Landrum, Kindell’s mother, strenuously disagrees: “How many times does this guy get to get cleared of shooting somebody? I don’t get it. I am so upset. I don’t know what to say.” She’s also upset by the decision letter’s detailed descriptions of her son’s past criminal history and the various contents of the Jeep — especially considering that when Kindell was first shot, the police refused to publicly identify him as the victim or let his family know his medical condition. “You can write all of this stuff when you clear an officer, but the night he was shot, you didn’t even release his name? How can you report all of this when he is cleared but not once did you say my son’s name the night he was shot?” she asks. “Why are they making Sharod look like a monster, while DiManna is the true monster?”
After the January 9 shooting, Kindell was charged with assaulting police officers, aggravated motor-vehicle theft, possession of marijuana with intent to manufacture or distribute, and being a previous offender in possession of a gun. And now he’s facing an additional charge, courtesy of his arrest last week. According to a probable-cause statement released by the police, on the morning of March 3, police were dispatched to an apartment in northeast Denver when a caller claimed a possible sex assault was in progress. While they didn’t find any evidence of a physical assault there, they arrested Kindell for allegedly hiring an escort and then refusing to let her leave when she declined to give him oral sex. According to the police report, “He told the victim she could not leave without providing sex or refunding the fee he had paid.” The victim also claimed that Kindell told her he had a firearm.
But Landrum insists there’s more to the story than the police suggest: “It looks like a setup to me,” she says. “I don’t believe my son got into this kind of trouble.”
Landrum says she got a very different account from Kindell, who was released March 5 on a $5,000 bond. And while she doesn’t want to go into too much detail because the case is under investigation, she says, “I can honestly tell you there was no escort involved in this. It was simply a woman outside in a so-called domestic dispute not involving Sharod. She knocked on the door to use the phone.”
This might seem like the sort of stuff any protective mother would say about a child who’s run afoul of the law, and it doesn’t help that these two incidents weren’t Kindell’s first run-ins with police. (He had already been charged with eluding police, assaulting a police officer, child abuse and other crimes.) But whether or not she’s biased, Landrum argues, the police accounts of the events on March 3 don’t add up. For one thing, she says, Kindell didn’t have a gun on him, and the police didn’t find any evidence of a firearm or signs of struggle or sexual assault in the apartment, which belongs to Kindell’s aunt. (Kindell is currently staying there and not in Montbello with his fiancée, Chanel Cruz, because, according to his mother, “He is not comfortable in Montbello, because that’s where he was shot.”)
Another problem with the police version, says Landrum, is that Kindell’s injuries included a serious wound to his groin. “Sharod still has open wounds on his scrotum, so I doubt he was asking anyone to do that to him,” she says of the alleged March 3 request for oral sex.
Her claims might sound a bit far-fetched, Landrum admits, but then again, it would be in the Denver Police Department’s best interest to undermine Kindell’s story. “I don’t know what else to think, other than [that] they are constantly finding something to make Sharod look bad,” she says. “Everything that is coming up will be detrimental to them, so they just want Sharod to be a monster, and that’s not fair.”
Here's the officer-involved-shooting decision letter.