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Jury acquits man in case linked to police shooting of De'Von Bailey

Lawrence Stoker, 19, cousin and fellow suspect in an armed robbery,talks at a downtown...
Lawrence Stoker, 19, cousin and fellow suspect in an armed robbery,talks at a downtown Colorado Springs coffee shop about the series of events that led to the death of De’Von Bailey, 19. (Photo:> The Gazette) (KKTV)
Published: Nov. 21, 2019 at 1:49 PM MST
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A jury deliberated less than 20 minutes before acquitting a 19-year-old man in an Aug. 3 skirmish that led to the deadly police shooting of De’Von Bailey in Colorado Springs.

Lawrence Stoker was found not guilty of two counts of third-degree assault and one count of harassment.

The case concerned an alleged robbery that spawned the 911 call leading to Bailey’s death as he ran from police. But the jury offered a scathing review of the support provided by the prosecution.

One of six panelists, Julian Slavkoff, said Stoker shouldn't have been charged and that prosecutors “should be ashamed.”

“They almost proved it the other way,” he said, citing a trio of defense eyewitnesses who said victim Anthony Love swung first.

Slavkoff reached out to shake the defendant’s hand as he strolled past in the courthouse lobby. “Sorry they put you through this,” he said.

Prosecutors defended their case on procedural grounds, saying a judge found probable cause before trial. They accused Stoker of beating and robbing Anthony Love outside an apartment complex on South Union Boulevard.

Bailey was fatally shot in the back within 15 minutes of Love’s 911 call. Police body camera footage showed he had a gun in his pocket, consistent with Love’s allegations that Bailey flashed a gun at him as Stoker repeatedly punched him and rifled his pockets, stealing his wallet.

Three defense witnesses gave a sharply different account, however, swaying the jury despite prosecutors’ contention the witnesses were lying to help their friend.

The panelists stopped short of saying testimony proved that Love was engaging in “swatting” or seeking revenge when he called 911, as the defense alleged.

That wasn’t what we were trying to prove," juror Casey Knowlton said. "We were really trying to stick to what the charges were."

Juror Mara Hagan called it a case of reasonable doubt.

“I just didn’t think they had enough evidence,” she said.

Fellow panelist Shana Singh said Love’s injuries didn’t seem serious enough to merit charges and a three-day trial for Stoker.

"It felt kind of like just a scuffle," she said. "Something that was blown out of proportion.”

Stoker could have been jailed for up to 18 months if convicted. His trial began Tuesday, days after an El Paso County grand jury rejected filing charges against Colorado Springs police Sgt. Alan Van't Land and Officer Blake Evenson — the two officers involved in Bailey's shooting death.