Federal authorities will not file criminal charges against the Colorado Springs officers who shot and killed De'Von Bailey last summer.
The FBI and the U.S. Attorney for Colorado reviewed the case after Bailey’s family and community members protested what they believed was an incident driven by racial bias. The police officers are white, Bailey was black.
“Both offices concluded that the fatal shooting of Mr. Bailey, although undoubtedly devastating to his family, friends, and community, did not result from any willful violation of Mr. Bailey’s constitutional rights,” reads a statement issued by the U.S. Attorney’s office on Friday. “Therefore, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will not pursue criminal charges.”
Absent new evidence, the decision likely ends any possibility of criminal charges against the officers involved. Bailey’s family has vowed to pursue a civil lawsuit.
Bailey, 19, was shot as he ran away from police on Aug. 3, 2019. Sgt. Alan Van’t Land and Officer Blake Evenson stopped and questioned Bailey about an alleged armed robbery that had taken place earlier. Officers repeatedly ordered Bailey to show his hands before Bailey ran as an officer approached him from behind to check him for weapons.
Bailey, who had a gun in his pocket, was shot three times in the back, the shooting was captured on officer-worn body cameras and a surveillance camera.
The footage of a young black man shot in the back sparked a community outcry, and that’s partly why El Paso County District Attorney Dan May referred the investigation to the grand jury, rather than rule himself whether the shooting was justified.
The shooting was justified under Colorado's "fleeing felon" statute, which allows officers to shoot if they believe the suspect committed a felony with a firearm and may still have the gun. In clearing the officers, the grand jury said, “these officers had a reasonable belief that Mr. Bailey had committed the felony of aggravated robbery and was in possession of a firearm."
The decision not to bring federal charges was not a surprise to Bailey’s family attorney.
“It’s 100 percent predictable,” said Mari Newman, an attorney for Bailey’s family. “Having litigated countless police abuse cases it doesn’t surprise me one bit that there’s not going to be any sort of prosecutorial decision.”
Newman says they’re still in the process of preparing a civil suit against the department.
Colorado Springs police shot 23 people from 2014-2019, according to a CPR analysis of officer involved shootings. Two of the 23 were black, 18 were white and two were Hispanic (one is unknown). The department also had a population-adjusted shootings rate below the statewide average.
Both officers returned to duty three days after the shooting and remain on the force.
Colorado Springs Police released a statement saying the shooting has been investigated by three outside agencies that all “came to the same conclusion. We stand by our officers, but we also recognize that there are many relationships that need to be rebuilt and trust that needs to be established. As we continue to move forward, we remain committed to serving our community with humility.”