‘If I could switch places, I would’: Ex-boyfriend faces 20-year sentence for the death of Parkrose High grad

In an intense and emotional hearing Tuesday, the 21-year-old ex-boyfriend of Shai’India Harris was sentenced to 20 years in prison for shooting and killing Harris in Southeast Portland in 2020.

Kceon Colbert pleaded guilty earlier to first-degree manslaughter and unlawful use of a weapon nearly two years after Colbert and Harris argued and Colbert shot 18-year-old Harris, a recent Parkrose High School graduate.

More than a dozen of Harris’ family members and friends filled the courtroom of Multnomah County Circuit Judge Christopher Marshall and several shared statements. They sought answers and closure from Colbert and expressed their devastation.

“You’re going away for 20 years,” said Samuel Howard, Harris’ father. “My baby isn’t ever coming back though.”

Harris was shot and killed outside a home near Southeast 84th Avenue and Flavel Street on July 10, 2020. Police did not identify Colbert as a suspect for several weeks; he was arrested Aug. 26, 2020.

Family members addressed Colbert directly, saying he seemed like a “good kid” and didn’t understand why he shot Harris. Her older sister, Harmony Howard, said Harris worked hard in school and often helped Colbert with his homework. She planned to go to Atlanta after graduating.

“I hate that her heart had to cost her her life,” Harmony Howard said. “I sit here and shed these tears for her.”

At one point in the hearing, people who knew Colbert started arguing with some members of Harris’ family. People from both sides started yelling and a court officer asked Colbert’s group to leave.

Just 18 months after Harris’ death, her cousin Keion Howard was shot and killed in North Portland during an argument with another man. The family told The Oregonian/OregonLive that Howard was never the same after Harris died.

Harris’ mother, Sharnell Harris, said she got a call from her daughter moments before the shooting and that her daughter said Colbert was going to shoot her. She said she heard someone who sounded like Colbert threatening her daughter and then three gunshots.

Shai’India Harris was shot in the head, stomach and back, family members said in court.

“I just want to know – what were you thinking?” Sharnell Harris asked Colbert.

Court records don’t explain what police and prosecutors found in their investigation. Colbert originally was charged with second-degree murder. The arrest warrant affidavit from the case hasn’t been released.

Colbert addressed the court and apologized for what happened, saying the shooting was an accident and that he cared about Harris.

The gunfire stemmed from an argument between them, he said. He was trying to leave when Harris confronted him in his car, he said.

Harris grabbed his hair and started reaching for the gun in his open fanny pack and it fired by accident, Colbert said.

“If I could switch places, I would,” Colbert said. “You have the right to feel the way you do.”

– Austin De Dios; adedios@oregonian.com; (503) 319-9744

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