The mother of a murdered Little Rock man says she did not imagine feeling so alone while his killer awaits trial.
Yolanda Harrison said Monday she does not feel like law enforcement or the Little Rock community has taken the time to know who her son Devan Sprawling was and if they did they would not believe the explanation Little Rock police officers gave for his death.
“Even from a baby, he was always a very happy kid,” Harrison said. “Always happy, always smiling.”
Sprawling died at the age of 20 on November 30, 2018. According to a police report, officers were notified he had been shot when he arrived at CHI St. Vincent that night. He died at the hospital later that night. Officers learned that he was shot at a house on Fair Park Drive and arrested three people in connection with the crime.
“He was into music,” Harrison said of her son. “Wow, he loved music!”
Sprawling was a guitarist and an up-and-coming deejay and producer, a Bryant High School graduate who decided after one year of college to pursue music as a career.
“He has a SoundCloud with a lot of his beats on it,” Harrison said. “I actually go to that and I listen to some of his beats that he made. You know, just listening to his music, you know, his beats. It really touches me when I hear it Just brings back memories of him.”
She also described him as an avid hunter, who hunted with his father beginning at five years old. She said his knowledge of guns and gun safety makes it highly unlikely he would have played with a gun that night or allowed someone to play with a gun near him. In his arrest report, Patrick Bennett, 21, is alleged to have told investigators that he believed he was holding an airsoft gun when he shot and killed Sprawling.
“You put it to his temple,” Harrison said of Bennett. “You pulled the trigger, regardless if it was fake or not. You put it to his temple and pulled the trigger. So, regardless, you intended to harm him.”
Harrison doubts other aspects of the story provided by Bennett and reiterated by the Little Rock Police Department.
“First of all, if it’s an accident, you’re not going to clean up the scene,” she explained. “You let him lay there like an animal and bleed out while you guys clean up, and didn’t think to call 911.
“Was he alive right after the shooting? Those are questions that I have. How long did he live? Could he have survived if they called 911?”
Bennett was booked into jail for manslaughter, and according to court records was released on bond December 3. Latrey Holloway, 20, and Bert Zinamon, 20 were arrested for tampering with evidence. Zinamon was also charged with felony drug possession, while Holloway was charged with misdemeanor drug possession following a search of the home where Sprawling was shot.
Harrison cannot believe their bonds were set low enough to allow them out of jail. “Three days after this happened, they were free,” she said. “All three were out. I hadn’t even planned my son’s funeral.”
Harrison went to the hospital shortly after her son was admitted. She said CHI St. Vincent knew to call her because she had taken him there for allergy treatment a couple years before, and she was still listed in the hospital’s records as his emergency contact.
She said a security guard became suspicious when the suspects attempted to drop off Sprawling at the emergency room, stopping them and notifying police. When she arrived, she noticed that her son’s keys were missing, as were his driver’s license and bank card, things he kept on him at all times.
Harrison, who works in the emergency room at the McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital, saw Sprawling’s gunshot wound before the coroner took his body. She describes a wound indicative of someone putting the gun directly against her son’s head and pulling the trigger.
“He didn’t deserve this,” she said, holding back tears. “He didn’t deserve to die like an animal. He didn’t deserve this at all. And I just want his story to be told and I want justice for him. I want justice to be served.”
She said she has had to make all the calls to detectives and prosecutors, and had not heard from the prosecutor’s office until Monday afternoon, nearly six weeks after her son’s death.
“This is horrible,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine another state being worse than this. This is absolutely horrible, to just write us off, write me off.”
Harrison said she has met with Parents of Murdered Children and the Center for Healing Hearts and Spirits, two local non-profits that help victims’ families. She said their caring has inspired to her to want to become a victims’ rights advocate, too.
“I’m gonna join every one,” she said, “so that other parents, victims’ families, do not have to go through what I’ve had to go through.”
Harrison said, if her son’s death had, indeed, been an accident, she would have expected one of the suspects or their families to share their condolences with her. None have called.
“I don’t want to hear from them now, trying to say, ‘oh, he’s sorry,’” Harrison said. “No. It’s been over a month now. He had every opportunity to apologize to me, if it was really an accident.”
Harrison said she plans to be in the courtroom for Bennett’s first appearance, which is scheduled for February 1.