De’Von Bailey’s Family Files Civil Rights Lawsuit Against Colorado Springs Police

June 4, 2020
Police Shooting ColoradoPolice Shooting ColoradoColorado Springs Police Department via AP
This Aug. 3, 2019 photo from police body camera video from the Colorado Springs, Colo., Police Department shows the second in a sequence of photos of a confrontation between officers and De'Von Bailey, 19.

Updated 1:23 p.m.

Ten months after 19-year-old De’Von Bailey was shot and killed by two Colorado Springs police officers, his family has filed a civil rights lawsuit claiming his constitutional rights were violated.

The suit states officers used excessive force on Aug. 3, 2019, and there “was no immediate threat to the officers’ safety.” The lawsuit, filed in federal court Thursday, contends that Colorado Springs police officers Alan Van’t Land and Blake Evenson did not warn Bailey before they fired eight shots in two seconds into his back as he fled from them.

There is no specific money demand requested in the lawsuit. Attorney Darold Killmer, with Killmer, Lane and Newman, told CPR’s Colorado Matters that “whatever the jury determines is fair will be satisfactory to the family.”

The lawsuit is filed on behalf of Bailey’s estate, including Bailey’s parents, Greg Bailey and Delisha Searcy, and Bailey’s former girlfriend, Laquana Gardner, the mother of their child, 5-month-old Rosyanna.

“I don’t want for her to be afraid of the police because of what happened to their dad,” Gardner told Colorado Matters. “The police murdered De’Von. And our child will never get to know him. It breaks my heart. But I want her to have her own opinion. I’ve learned to look at both sides and I don’t want for her to be one-minded."

The disturbing footage from the body cameras worn by the officers showed Bailey and his cousin, Lawrence Stoker, detained by police investigating a since-disputed 911 call over a robbery. In the video, Bailey appears to reach toward his shorts but then raises his hands over his head when asked to do so. Bailey then runs and is shot after a couple of steps. The video garnered outrage from the Colorado Springs community and made national news.

Van’t Land and Evenson were back on the streets within days of the shooting, which further enraged Bailey’s friends and family.

“If would say to the police that they should have never stopped me or De’Von. If they would have spent one or two minutes investigating the 911 call... instead the police acted as the judge, the jury, and the executioner, just like they did to George Floyd,” said Stoker, who was later cleared of any wrongdoing. “Every time I go to sleep I see it. I live it every day. I walk past it every day. It really affects me.”

In November, an El Paso County grand jury found the officers were justified in the case.

“This is a horrible tragedy for our community. My office and I personally have met with De’Von’s parents,” District Attorney Dan May announced with the decision. “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.”

Soon after the grand jury investigation, the FBI’s Denver Office and the U.S. Attorney’s office came to a similar conclusion, saying “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.”

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