A grand jury has found that two Colorado Springs police officers were justified when they shot and killed a black teenager during a foot chase on August 3rd.
El Paso County District Attorney Dan May announced the decision Wednesday. 19-year-old De'Von Bailey was shot three times in the back and once in the arm while running from police as they responded to a robbery call.
Body camera footage shows officers questioning Bailey and another man about an armed robbery reported nearby. Bailey runs away as he is about to be searched and is shot after he appears to put his hands near his waistband.
Police say they found a gun in his shorts.
The shooting sparked community rallies, a call for patience from Mayor John Suthers, and a press conference with the family.
Mari Newman served as legal counsel for Bailey’s family.
“It’s impossible for a community to have any faith in the integrity of the system when there’s no independence, as we’ve seen here,” she said.
Newman would have liked to see the case handled entirely outside the county.
In a letter addressed to the community, Chief of Police Vince Niski described the shooting as "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," Niski wrote.
Niski says the investigation followed Colorado law in that it was turned over to a professional outside law enforcement agency - the El Paso County Sheriff's Office. Bailey's family questioned the fairness of the investigation saying, "friends shouldn't investigate friends." After Bailey's death, Governor Jared Polis also called for an independent review.
The police department identified the officers who discharged their weapons as Sergeant Alan Van’t Land and Officer Blake Evenson. Van’t Land has been employed with the Colorado Springs Police Department since 2008; Evenson since 2012. Both are white.
Niski says the CSPD plans to act on the input they have received from the community since Bailey's death.
"My command staff and I are actively working with our partners to find better ways to be transparent and provide information faster, while maintaining the integrity of investigations."
Read the full letter from Chief Niski below:
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