In the last six months, officers with the Denver Police Department (DPD) have shot at vehicles on at least four occasions, twice last month. On January 26, police shot and killed 17-year-old Jessica Hernandez while she was allegedly driving a stolen car. Police initially claimed she had injured one of the cops who fired on her, but he may have been injured trying to get away from the car. Police aren't releasing any other information in the case while the investigation into police action continues. The Hernandez case was the only vehicle shooting in the last six months that did not involve DPD officer Jeffrey DiManna.
Earlier in January, DiManna was involved in the shooting of 19-year-old Sherrod Kindell, who says he's been pulled over by police for various trumped up reasons at least 40 times. On January 9, Kindell was driving back home after dropping something off at his brother's house when he pulled over to take a phone call from his mother. After hanging up with her he realized police had pulled up behind him. The Denver Post reports:
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.
Kindell was taken to a hospital and later transferred to an infirmary at a local detention center—despite having an open wound he says police took him in a squad car. His mother says she finally got to see him almost two weeks after the shooting, in court. Kindell now faces charges of: possessing a gun while being a "previous offender," first and second degree assault for allegedly hitting the police officers with her car, aggravated motor-vehicle theft for driving a rental car that had allegedly not been rented out, and possession of marijuana with intent to manufacture or distribute, because cops found marijuana (legal in Colorado) in the car—Kindell says he has a medical marijuana license and was making edibles for a family member who had had surgery.
A spokesperson for the district attorney told The Denver Post none of the charges were known to police when they pulled Kindell over. He had been pulled over, she claims, because police saw him run a stop sign.