Thursday, November 14, 2019

Grand jury declines to indict CSPD officers in De'Von Bailey shooting

Posted By on Thu, Nov 14, 2019 at 10:08 AM

De'Von Bailey turns to flee police. - CSPD BODY WORN CAMERA
  • CSPD body worn camera
  • De'Von Bailey turns to flee police.
A grand jury has returned "no true bill" in the officer-involved shooting death of 19-year-old De'Von Bailey, meaning the Colorado Springs Police Department officers won't be charged with crimes.

The finding led Police Chief Vince Niski to issue a letter to the community, which said, in part:
There's is no doubt that the community of Colorado Springs has been tested over the last few months. What happened on August 3, 2019, is something neither police officers nor citizens ever want to experience. The loss of a son, a friend, a community member, is a devastating event that impacts all of us.

Please know that our officers and I do not take our responsibilities to our citizens lightly. It is our duty to serve everyone in our community with integrity, humility, and excellence.
The shooting spurred protests from the southeast Colorado Springs area where the shooting occurred, with Bailey's family and friends alleging racism played a role and demanding an independent investigation.

(An Indy analysis of nearly 20 years of officer-involved shootings in the Pikes Peak region largely discredited the institutional racism argument.)

Bailey's supporters contend the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, which investigated the incident under state law requirements, couldn't be unbiased toward the CSPD because Undersheriff Pete Carey used to be CSPD chief and other personnel have crossed over between the departments.

Even Gov. Jared Polis urged an outside look, though Mayor John Suthers accused the governor of politicking with the case and expressed support for the traditional procedure, which places the case in the district attorney's hands unless it's handed off to a grand jury.

On Oct. 4, DA Dan May referred the Bailey case to a grand jury, which meets in secret, meaning the public can't know what evidence was presented that led to the decision to clear the officers, Sgt. Alan Van’t Land and Officer Blake Evenson.

Video of the event, released 11 days after the shooting, showed officers questioning Bailey and his cousin regarding an armed robbery reported minutes before the encounter. As officers instructed both to keep their hands up, one officer moved to search them, but Bailey bolted, drawing fire from both officers. He was struck three times in the back and once in the arm. Officers found a handgun in his pocket.

To arrive at a decision to clear officers, grand jurors must find that officers reasonably believed it was necessary to defend themselves or others from what they saw as an imminent use of deadly force. Or, they believed lethal force was needed to effect an arrest or prevent the escape from custody by a person they believed had committed or had attempted to commit a felony using force or threat of force with a deadly weapon. Officers also are justified in using lethal force if a suspect is attempting to escape using a deadly weapon or is likely to endanger human life unless apprehended without delay.

Read the grand jury report:

"The family is very disappointed," Maury Newman, the lawyer for the Bailey family told KKTV Channel 11 News following the release of the grand jury's finding. "It's no surprise, it's the exact result you can expect when a tainted investigation is presented by a biased prosecutor. This is precisely the reason we have been calling for an independent investigation and an independent prosecutor from the very beginning."

Protesters also questioned why the officers were allowed to return to duty three days after the shooting, which is explained in the Indy's follow up story regarding psychological impacts on police officers.

It's not clear what comes next. The Bailey family could file a lawsuit alleging wrongful death.

We've reached out to community leader Pastor Promise Lee for his take on the grand jury's finding and will circle back when we hear from him.

Chief Niski's letter to the community:

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