BRIGHTON | An Adams County judge sentenced a man to 30 years in prison Tuesday, March 15, for shooting an Aurora police officer in 2014.
Before he sentenced Jahvell Forrest to three decades behind bars, Judge Robert Kiesnowski gave a blistering statement, telling Forrest his continued crime spree after the shooting — which included robberies and break-ins in Arapahoe County and stealing from other inmates at the jail — showed Forrest wasn’t truly sorry.
“This young man doesn’t give a damn about anyone but himself,” Kiesnowski said.
The judge said he hoped the sentence sent a message to Forrest and anyone else willing to shoot at law enforcement officers.
“It is not open season on police officers,” Kiesnowski said.
Burns, his wife and Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz had all asked Kiesnowski to give Forrest the maximum sentence, saying it would send a message.
“I can’t for sure say whether there is a war on cops right now,” Metz said. “But I can sure say it feels like it.”
Metz noted that he and many of the more than 40 police officers who packed the courtroom for the hearing were wearing black shrouds over their badges in honor of Park County Deputy Nate Carrigan, who was killed earlier this month in the line of duty.
The judge’s harsh statement stood in contrast to the statement from Burns, who said he is hopeful Forrest can turn his life around.
“Jahvell, I honestly and sincerely forgive you for what you’ve done to me,” he said.
Burns said after the sentencing that it was important for him as a Christian to forgive Forrest.
Forrest’s public defender, Emily Lieberman, asked the judge for a sentence short of the maximum, but said she agreed that a minimum sentence would be inappropriate.
She said Forrest had a toxic relationship with his ex-convict biological father, who she said encouraged him to steal a car the night of the shooting.
For his part, Forrest — wearing a jail jumpsuit with his hands and feet shackled — said he was sorry and wished he could take back what he did.
“I pray every night for Officer Burns that he can overcome this and forgive me,” Forrest said.
Forrest had been charged with attempted murder but a jury in February convicted him of a lesser manslaughter charge. That decision incensed the Aurora Police Association, the biggest union representing Aurora’s police officers.
APA President Sgt. Bob Wesner said he and many officers who attended the hearing Tuesday — the crowd of more than 40 uniformed officers filled the gallery and some were allowed to sit in the jury box while others were forced to stand — used vacation days to be there.