How Jahvell Forrest Went From Cherry Creek High Baller to Cop Shooter

"You never know how in one instance life may change course."

A family member reportedly Facebooked this line shortly after twenty-year-old Jahvell Forrest was arrested for allegedly shooting an Aurora police officer during a November 2014 traffic stop.

But while the bust certainly altered Forrest's trajectory in a permanent way — he's received a sentence for more time behind bars than he's spent on this planet to date — the transition had been under way for a while.

It took about two years for Forrest to go from being a standout football player for Cherry Creek High School to a cop shooter.

Forrest's Facebook page remains online at this writing and features plenty of portraits, including this one....

...and this one:

Also included are pics featuring Forrest with his young son, who will now grow up without him.

A few of the photos date back to Forrest's days as a student at Cherry Creek High School, where he played linebacker.

A MaxPreps page devoted to his accomplishments lists him as the thirteenth-best high-school linebacker in the state of Colorado circa 2012.

Here are screen captures of three photos of him with the team.

Shortly thereafter, however, Forrest began getting more attention from the judicial system than college recruiters.

After Forrest's arrest, 7News obtained records that showed four pages' worth of adult busts for offenses such as carrying a concealed weapon, burglary, theft, harassment and disturbing the peace.

One specific case stands out. An arrest warrant named him as a suspect in a break-in at his alma mater, Cherry Creek High.

He's said to have gotten into lockers and stolen credit cards and more during a September 2014 football game.

But that was minor compared to what would happen a couple of months later.

At 9:05 p.m. on November 14, Forrest stole a car left in front of Evelyn's Hair Studio, at 10259 East Colfax in Aurora.

The vehicle was a "puffer" — meaning it had been left outside with the engine on to warm up.

Shortly thereafter, the ride was spotted by two Aurora police officers: Ryan Burns and Dale Leonard.

After stopping the vehicle, the officers approached. But before they could make contact, the driver fired several shots through the window.

Burns was hit in the leg, and while Leonard returned fire, Forrest was able to flee the scene.

He didn't get far; the car was found abandoned on the 1900 block of Fulton, just a couple of blocks away.

Forrest split on foot from there, prompting Aurora cops, supplemented by personnel from the Denver Police Department and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, to set up a large perimeter in the area, but to no avail.

The perimeter was taken down at 1:45 a.m., but the search hardly stopped. Over the course of the next few days, during which Burns was treated for his injuries at a local hospital, the reward for information about the suspect climbed to $35,000 — well above the standard $2,000 offered through Crime Stoppers.

Then, on the evening of November 18, the APD announced that Forrest had been captured as a result of a tip — after which the book was thrown at him.

Charges against him included six counts of attempted reckless manslaughter, two counts of second-degree assault, aggravated motor-vehicle theft and felony menacing.

Earlier this week, following his conviction in February, Forrest was sentenced to thirty years for shooting Burns, who's said to have survived his wound because Leonard applied a tourniquet at the scene.

During the hearing, Forrest apologized, but District Judge Robert Kiesnowski Jr. wasn't especially sympathetic.

A release from the 17th Judicial District DA's Office quotes Kiesnowski as saying, "The only thing I think you’re sorry about is that you got caught and are going to prison. The community needs to know that when you fire a weapon at anyone, especially a police officer, the consequences are dire. It is not open season on police officers, the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect the rest of us."

Look below to see Forrest's mug shot, followed by a 7News report from shortly after his arrest.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts