Colo man shot by police is schizophrenic, mother says |

Colo man shot by police is schizophrenic, mother says

Alan Gathright
Rocky Mountain News
Vail, CO Colorado
Darin McGregor/Rocky Mountain NewsDawn North, mother of the young man shot by a Grand County Sheriff's Deputy on Monday evening, talks on her cell phone after coming out of St. Anthony Central Hospital with her daughter Dawnette, 17, in Denver Tuesday.

DENVER, Colorado “-A 23-year-old man may be paralyzed after he was shot by a Grand County deputy following a wild car chase and crash Monday night.

The man, identified only as David, was in critical condition following an 11-hour surgery this morning at Denver’s St. Anthony Central Hospital.

David’s mother, Dawn North, said her son was shot in the Adam’s apple, abdomen and pinky finger.

She said doctor’s cautioned that he appeared to be paralyzed below the neck due to damage to his spinal cord.

Pacing nervously at the hospital, North said her son was diagnosed three years ago with drug-induced schizophrenia, about the time he also was arrested for a DUI.

She said Grand County Sheriff Rod Johnson spoke to her briefly, telling her “‘There was a confrontation, and the deputy had to shoot him.'”

North said her son owns no weapons.

“I’m just so confused. I don’t understand. This is my son. They shot my boy.”

North said her son went out about 6:30 p.m. Monday for what should have been a 30-minute trip to Winter Park to return a movie video and do some grocery shopping.

She and one of her daughters left a note for David, then went out to eat. While there, they heard sirens.

“I always do a mental check,” North said. “Where are my kids? David was the only one … I didn’t know where he was.”

They returned for home about 10:30, hearing a Flight for Life helicopter along the way, then found that David hadn’t returned.

“That’s when I started thinking, ‘Something is wrong,'” North said.

She called hospitals, then finally called the local Granby clinic where she heard that David had been shot and was in a Denver hospital, she said.

This morning, taking a break from the bedside, she said, “I was just in there looking at him and I thought: ‘Here’s a kid with a mental illness, and he was shot three times by a cop,'”

North said alcohol triggers her son’s schizophrenic episodes. Just six months ago, he started drinking again and was taken to a local clinic, she said.

There he received a month of medication, but she said he has no insurance to pay for the $300 a month medication and stopped taking the drugs quite a while ago.

Sheriff Johnson would not immediately release the man’s name, only describing him as a county resident. His mother wouldn’t divulge his last name either. Johnson confirmed the man was shot in the abdomen and throat.

The incident began about 7 p.m. when someone called the sheriff’s dispatcher to report a possible drunken driver in a Ford Focus swerving into on-coming traffic as he careened southbound on U.S. 40 near Granby, the sheriff said.

A patrolling deputy soon spotted the Ford near Tabernash and attempted to pull it over.

“The driver just took off,” Johnson said, adding that the car continued to swerve into oncoming lanes and turned around to drive the other way.

The cruiser and the Ford collided near Fraser, Johnson said. The deputy and the driver left their vehicles and during a confrontation, the deputy shot the man in the abdomen and the throat.

Johnson wouldn’t say whether the suspect was armed or had attacked or threatened the deputy, stressing that the investigation was continuing.

U.S. 40 was closed seven hours because of the investigation and reopened at 2:44 a.m.

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