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Darrell Havens: Car thief paralyzed by Arvada police shooting in standoff over parole deal

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In June, I wrote about Darrell Havens, the paralyzed car thief whose medical parole was canceled after Arvada police chief Don Wick complained.

A month later, the situation appears no closer to a resolution.

Last month, the wheelchair-bound inmate hinted he had one bargaining chip left in his effort to obtain an early release from his twenty-year sentence.

"Tell them I will drop my lawsuit against them if they can get me my parole back," he said.

Shortly after the aforementioned article was published, Havens was contacted by the Arvada City Attorney's Office, in an effort to explore just such an arrangement. But the two sides remain at an impasse over whether Havens will be released if he drops his claims against the Arvada detective who shot him.

Three years ago, Havens was the target of an undercover police sting by an auto-theft task force. Warned that the nineteen-year-old thief might try to escape and ram police cars in the process, officers devised a plan to box in him and his stolen Audi A6 behind an Arvada Target store and then use a taser on him. But the pin-and-tase plan went badly, and Arvada detective Bill Johnson, trapped on foot in front of Havens' car, ended up firing nine rounds into the vehicle.

Havens was left a quadriplegic from the shooting and later pleaded guilty to attempted assault. His care costs the Colorado Department of Corrections more than $200,000 a year, and last fall prison officials sought an unusual medical parole for him. The parole board granted the parole, then abruptly "suspended" it after Chief Wick protested the move in a call to then-board chairman David Michaud -- a former Denver police chief.

In his lawsuit, Havens claims that he lost control of the Audi after police rammed him and then shot him, leaving him unable to even take his foot off the gas pedal. His version is at odds with police accounts in the shooting investigation, but he claims his position has been bolstered by discovery he's received since he filed in court on his own behalf.

"The detectives' only problem with me getting out is that they are mad about the lawsuit," Havens recently wrote in a letter to Westword from prison. "They don't think I'm a threat or worried about me committing more crimes, but they know that they have no justification for shooting me and don't want to look bad."

Michaud recently retired from the parole board, and the DOC is preparing another application for a special medical parole. According to Gerald Havens, the inmate's father, Arvada officials have stated in writing that Wick would not again intervene opposing the parole if Havens would voluntarily dismiss his lawsuit. But that offer is short of the "guarantee" of parole that Havens is seeking, his father says.

"They're not telling him that he'll get parole or that they can do anything to see that it happens," Gerald Havens says. "They're just saying they won't stop it this time."

After Darrell's previous experience -- believing he had received parole, then finding out it had been yanked 48 hours before his scheduled release -- that isn't enough, it seems. He's still pursuing his lawsuit and waiting for the paperwork on his parole to make its way to the board once more.

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