Paralyzed shooting victim wrestles with his fears [Video discussion]
Times reporter Molly Hennessy-Fiske and web producer Evan Wagstaff will join city editor Shelby Grad at 1 p.m. to discuss the Times two-part series on Davien Graham, shot and paralyzed in front of his church in Monrovia in 2008. Investigators believe that he was the victim of a war between black and Latino gangs.
Hennessy-Fiske met Graham at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena shortly after he was shot in 2008. She checked in on his life over nearly five years, through the trial and its aftermath. They continued to meet while he was in protective custody.
From Part 1 of Hennessy-Fiske's two-part series:
After the nightmares started, Davien Graham avoided his bicycle.
In his dreams, he pedaled his silver BMX bike through his neighborhood, heard gunfire and died.
If I stay off my bike, I'll be safe, he thought.
He placed it in a backyard shed, where it sat for months. But Jan. 12, 2008, dawned so spectacular that Davien decided to risk it.
He ate Cap'n Crunch Berries cereal, grabbed the bike and rode a half-mile west to Calvary Grace, a Southern Baptist church that was his haven.
Davien lived with an unemployed aunt and uncle, a former Crip, and five other kids in a cramped four-bedroom house in Monrovia, about 20 miles east of Los Angeles.
Yet as a 16-year-old junior at Monrovia High School, Davien earned A's and B's, played JV football and volunteered with the video club. He cleaned the church on Saturdays for minimum wage.
If I live right, God will protect me.
That afternoon, sweaty from cleaning, Davien reached for his wallet to buy a snack -- only to realize he had forgotten it at home.
After returning to his house, he caught his reflection in the front window. He was 6 feet 2 and wiry. His skinny chest was beginning to broaden. He was trying to add weight to his 160-pound frame in time for varsity football tryouts.
He showered, told his aunt he would be right back and again jumped on his bike, size-14 Nike Jordans churning, heading for a convenience store near the church.
At the store, he bought Arizona fruit punch and lime chili Lay's potato chips. He recognized a kindergarten-age Latino boy and bought him Twinkies.
Davien pedaled down the empty sidewalk along Peck Road. He could hear kids playing basketball nearby. As he neared the church, a car passed, going in the opposite direction. He barely noticed.
He heard car tires crunching on asphalt behind him. He glanced back, expecting a friend.
Instead he heard: "Hey, fool."