Family Calls For Independent Investigation Into Fatal Police Shooting Of De’Von Bailey

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Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
A file image of a police investigation.

Attorneys for the family of a young black man who was fatally shot by Colorado police called Monday for an independent special prosecutor to investigate his death.

Colorado Springs police have said an officer shot 19-year-old De’Von Bailey on Aug. 3 after he and another man were stopped on suspicion of robbery. Officers said he was shot after reaching for a weapon but have not elaborated further, citing a pending sheriff's office investigation and subsequent review by the district attorney.

Surveillance video obtained by The Gazette showed 19-year-old De'Von Bailey running from two officers before falling to the ground. Witnesses, including the other man arrested at the time, said Bailey did have a gun but did not reach for it and that officers shot him multiple times in the back when he tried to flee.

Attorneys for Bailey's family said the investigation has too many conflicts, as the police department, sheriff's office and district attorney work together. City officials should appoint a special prosecutor to refer the case to a grand jury, they said.

"An independent and impartial special prosecutor should be given the important responsibility of bringing charges against the officers involved in this tragedy," attorneys Darold Killmer and Mari Newman said in a statement on Monday.

The shooting comes at a time when law enforcement agencies across the country are under scrutiny in the killing of black men. Bailey's death has prompted several protests in Colorado Springs, including one heated rally that ended when police arrested two bail bondsmen who arrived on motorcycles and drew guns after a scuffle with some of the protesters.

Attorneys said Bailey's relatives also want all footage from officers' body-worn cameras and patrol dash cameras to be released.

"We want to make sure that it's all the information, not just what the police think supports their side of things," Killmer said.

The Rev. Promise Lee, a pastor working with Bailey's family, said Monday that Bailey's body has been released to the family. Lee said he observed gunshot wounds on Bailey's body at a funeral home.

"Regardless of how many times you look at that video, it's undeniable that this shooting was excessive and uncalled for," Lee said.

State law provides a police officer wide leeway in using deadly force if the officer reasonably believes that the life of him or herself or others are in danger. The district attorney on a particular case then has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the officer was not acting within that leeway.

“(That) is why so many of these cases end up with the officer not being charged criminally,” said former Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett, who is not involved in the Bailey case.

The El Paso County Sheriff's Office said Thursday that it expects to complete its investigation by the end of this week for review by prosecutors. A spokesman for the police department said Friday that it will allow body camera footage from two officers capturing "the moments leading up to, including and immediately following the shooting" to be released.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.