Using the word “murder” to describe the police killing of a 19-year-old black armed robbery suspect earlier this month, about 60 people protested Thursday outside City Hall to again demand an independent investigation.
The protesters, led by the slain man’s father, the family’s attorney, Mari Newman, and Pastor Promise Lee, held signs reading, “An injustice for one is as injustice for all,” and “Who do you call when the murderer wears a badge?”
In addition to an independent investigation into the death of De’Von Bailey, his family and their supporters are asking police to release unedited body camera video and for the removal of “biased decision makers.”
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The Facebook page announcing the rally said the family is asking for the Aug. 3 shooting to be investigated by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and for the Colorado Attorney General’s Office to make the determination of whether the officers should face criminal charges.
Bailey was shot four times in the back and elbow as he ran from two officers who were questioning him and his cousin about a reported armed robbery. Bailey, who police said was found to be carrying a gun, attempted to escape and disobeyed several commands to raise his hands. Witnesses posted on social media and told The Gazette that Bailey was shot in the back while running away and did not appear to be holding a weapon when he was shot.
The shooting was investigated by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, which turned its findings over to the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office last week.
Because of the ties between the law enforcement agencies, Newman questioned whether they could be impartial in investigating each other.
“Here in Colorado Springs, as you all know, this is a very tight law enforcement community,” Newman said. “People move back and forth between the Sheriff’s Office, between the Police Department, it’s the same folks.
“There is no way that we can believe that it is a truly independent and truthful investigation unless we know it’s been done by somebody who’s impartial.”
The Bailey family also wants the raw, unedited footage from the body cameras worn by the two officers who shot De’Von Bailey, Newman said. She said the video police released froze certain frames and included a “misleading” attempt at justifying the shooting by citing when deadly force can be used by law enforcement officers.
“It’s unconstitutional and it was misleading for the Colorado Springs Police Department to put that up as though that were some kind of complete statement of the law when they excluded our constitutional standard.”
Newman referred to a U.S. Supreme Court case, Tennessee v. Garner, in which the ruling stated:
“‘The use of deadly force to prevent the escape of all felony suspects, whatever the circumstances, is constitutionally unreasonable. It is not better that all felony suspects die than that they escape. Where the suspect poses no immediate threat to the officer and no threat to others, the harm resulting from failing to apprehend him does not justify the use of deadly force to do so.'”
On Aug. 3 police released a statement saying that Bailey was shot because he was reaching for a gun. The next day, said Newman, the Sheriff’s Office issued a statement that “adopted the exact same lie that was used to justify shooting a man in the back as he ran away.”
“They’ve already decided where they come out on it,” Newman said.
Gov. Jared Polis recommended Thursday conducting an independent review into Bailey’s death, saying it would “maintain public trust and confidence.”
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said the governor seems tp be politically motivated. The mayor’s full response can be seen here.
4th Judicial District DA Dan May’s response is below.
During the demonstration, at least three police officers could be seen with binoculars on top of a nearby parking garage. No officers were seen on the ground outside City Hall.
People in the crowd said they were outraged that the two officers who shot Bailey — Sgt. Alan Van’t Land and Officer Blake Evenson — already are back on active duty, even though there’s been no ruling on the shooting.
“You don’t put the police back on the street unless you’ve already come to the conclusion that they’ve done nothing wrong,” Newman said.
“We just want to make sure that we see justice, not just for De’Von, but for everybody that things like this happen to,” said Bailey’s father, Greg Bailey. “What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong. … I sit and I think about me having to bury my child behind the people who we’re supposed to trust.”
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