Grand Jury Rules Colorado Springs Police Were Justified In The Shooting Of De’Von Bailey

Colorado Springs Police Department
Screencapture from police body cam video from Aug. 3, 2019 and released by the Colorado Springs Police Department on Aug. 15, 2019.

The grand jury investigating the Aug. 3 Colorado Springs officer-involved shooting that left 19-year-old De'Von Bailey dead has found the police were justified.

Dan May, the District Attorney for El Paso County, announced the jury's decision late Wednesday afternoon. The grand jury's investigation lasted about a month.

"I think there was a totally independent investigation, a totally independent decision by this grand jury. I think they took their jobs very seriously and I respect what the grand jury’s done in this case," May said at the press conference.

The multi-page report will be released to the public.

Bailey was shot to death as he fled from officers during an investigation into an armed robbery. Officers said Bailey was shot after he “reached for a firearm.”

The police department later released body camera footage from the incident. The graphic video showed officers firing eight shots total — hitting Bailey three times in the back and once in the arm as he ran. Bailey was found to be carrying a gun, but the video does not appear to show him reaching to pull it from his pocket.

Mari Newman is one attorney representing Bailey’s family. She said the family is very disappointed but as an attorney, she is not one bit surprised.

Dan Boyce/CPR News
Protestors gather at Colorado Springs City Hall demanding an independent investigation into the shooting death of De'Von Bailey on Aug. 22, 2019.

“This is the exact response we expected to see when there is a tainted investigation presented by a biased prosecutor,” she said. “We never believed for even a minute, given the way that this investigation has gone that there would be a prosecutorial finding. We knew that Dan May referred it to a grand jury in a way that it was designed to have no indictment and of course that’s what happened.”

Newman said the federal system exists so people are entitled to seek constitutional protection in our civil courts and that’s what she expects to do.

Colorado Springs Police Chief Vince Niski released a letter shortly after the grand jury decision was made public.

"I know this process has been difficult, but as we move forward together as a community, my officers and I remain committed to proudly serving you, the citizens of Colorado Springs," Niski wrote.

Gov. Jared Polis' office did not respond to specific questions about the decision, but did issue a short statement.

"Nothing can ever prepare a parent for losing a son or daughter. The Bailey family and the community must be given the space to grieve and move forward," said the statement, attributed to Polis.

Under Colorado law, grand juries are typically made up of either 12 persons, or 23. At least nine jurors must be present at any meeting to constitute a quorum.

Members are chosen by a chief judge for a judicial district "with the advice of the district attorney," from a list drawn by the court administrator of eligible residents, according to law. The court has the authority to keep the identities of grand jurors secret "to protect the judicial district grand jury process or the security of the grand jurors."

The district attorney makes the presentation to the grand jury, in secret, and if at least nine members agree, the grand jury can issue an indictment, charging an individual with a crime. Or the grand jury can find that no crime occurred, or, on rare occasions, issue a report to the court about what they learned.

Colorado law allows for the use of deadly force.

"To effect an arrest, or to prevent the escape from custody, of a person whom he reasonably believes has committed or attempted to commit a felony involving the use or threatened use of a deadly weapon," according to the statute.

At the time of the shooting, Colorado Springs Police were investigating a report that two men had committed an armed robbery about a block away. Police video shows Sgt. Alan Van't Land approach two men who matched the description of the robberies.

After a few questions, and requests from Van't Land to keep their hands where he can see them, Bailey ran as another officer approached him from behind. Van't Land gave chase, ordered Bailey to stop, and then opened fire.

De'von Bailey Police Shooting Memorial Mourners Colorado Springs
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Nicole Lempereur, in black, and Michele Sidie, both of Colorado Springs, visit the street memorial to De'von Bailey on Aug. 15 on Preuss Road where city police shot Bailey Aug. 3. Bailey later died. Both women were close friends of Bailey.

The shooting was investigated by the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, but Bailey's family and others in Colorado Springs repeatedly asked for it to be reviewed by authorities from outside the county. Eventually, May agreed to let a grand jury of citizens decide whether the shooting was justified, rather than making the decision himself.

That step, leading to Wednesday's decision, did not satisfy the attorneys.

"This is the exact reason why we have called for an independent investigation and an independent prosecution from the beginning," Darold Killmer, another attorney for Bailey's family, wrote via email. "The refusal to allow an independent investigation doomed the chances of a fair outcome from the outset."

The Reverend Promise Lee, who has also been working with the Bailey family, said the family in a lot of pain right now and that the community in Colorado Springs is shocked.

Lee said the way the situation has played out shows the power structure of the city, and by the time the case was handed to the grand jury, it was too little, too late.

"They thought that Colorado Springs was a different place," Lee said. "The reality is that it is, quote, 'A different place.'"

This is a developing story and will be updated.