Colorado Springs officers involved in deadly shooting return to work

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Colorado Springs police have released the body-camera footage of a controversial officer-involved shooting that left a teenager dead.

Still from the CSPD body-camera footage released Aug. 15, 2019

You can watch the video at the top of this article. We want to warn you, the content of this video is disturbing.

The Aug. 3 shooting left 19-year-old De'Von Bailey dead and has prompted protests in the days since. Bailey's family has called for an independent investigation, arguing the Colorado Springs Police Department and the El Paso County Sheriff's Office are too closely intertwined for a truly impartial investigation.

On Friday, 11 News learned both officers involved in the shooting had returned to duty from administrative leave.

The autopsy report was released just hours after the body camera footage. The report states Bailey was shot in the back three times and in the right arm once. He was hit in the heart, left lung, diaphragm and spleen. Click here to read the report provided to 11 News by Killmer, Lane & Newman, LLP.

The sheriff's office concluded their investigation into the case and handed it over to the 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office Thursday afternoon. The district attorney's office is reporting it could take 90 to 120 days to complete their review, or even longer.

The following was sent out by the district attorney's office:
"We have received the preliminary investigative reports regarding the death of De’von Bailey. Our office takes Officer-Involved Shooting investigations very seriously, and we are committed to a thorough, fair, and neutral review, which may include follow-up interviews, additional testing, and further analysis and examination of the evidence. Typically, an Officer-Involved Shooting investigation takes our office approximately 90-120 days to complete, sometimes longer, at which point we will issue a statement detailing our findings – either charges are filed, the shooting is ruled justified, or the case is sent to a Grand Jury.

All initial interviews were completed prior to the City’s release of the Body Worn Camera video.

The 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office has been in contact with De’von Bailey’s family and their local attorney and we will continue to keep the family apprised.

The video shows officers initially talking to Bailey and another man about an armed robbery that was reported nearby. Bailey runs away when one officer tells the men they are about to be searched for a gun.

The officer can be heard yelling "hands up!" three times before firing multiple times.

Police previously said an officer shot Bailey on Aug. 3 after he reached for a gun.

A lawyer for the family, Darold Kilmer, said Thursday the footage doesn't show Bailey with a weapon in his hand at any time or with a weapon when he was shot.

You can watch a response from the lawyer of the suspect's family to the body-camera footage being released below. NOTE: The audio isn't available until about one minute at 45 seconds into the video:



CSPD's account

Colorado Springs Police Department spokesperson Lt. Jim Sokolik told reporters the night of the shooting that it started with a call for service on Fountain Boulevard near Circle Drive around 6:45 p.m. The callers said they had been robbed.

"[The officers] contacted the victims there, who pointed out two suspects. Officers then made contact with the suspects, while detaining or attempting to detain those suspects."

During the confrontation, Sokolik said one of the suspected robbers reached for a gun.

"One of them reached for a firearm in their waistband. At least one of the officers involved did fire. The suspect was struck at least one time and has been transported to a local hospital."

Authorities confirmed Sunday morning that the suspect died at the hospital. His body is currently at the county coroner's office; an autopsy is pending.

The second suspect was reportedly taken into custody. Sokolik says no officers were injured.

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Witness accounts

But the family argued Bailey was misidentified and wasn't doing anything wrong that night.

"He was minding his own business with a friend of his and was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Mistaken identity," stepmother Jacqueline Johnson told 11 News. "... From what we’re hearing from the witnesses there, that there was no robbery. This is what we’re hearing from the witnesses that was there, that De’Von was just there minding his business with his friend.”

Elizabeth Powell said she was hosting her daughter's birthday party in the neighborhood near the shooting scene and rushed to the nearby park as soon as she saw a police car pass by.

"As soon as we saw the squad car, we knew some of our kids were at the park. So, we went to go try and find our kids and as I was walking up the street the first squad car that we saw had pulled up on two young black, male, individuals and they were questioning them."

Powell said she watched as the confrontation unfolded.

"The next thing I know, the male in the black shirt turned around and he just started running. He didn’t have anything in his hands he did not brandish any type of weapon. The police officer did not try and chase him, did not try and tase him. He took out his gun and he shot him.”

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"We need justice and answers

Protesters took to the streets twice in the days immediately following the shooting.

"The excessive force that they used and, you know, police brutality, needs to stop and that’s the biggest reason we’re out here," protester Angelyna Reed told 11 News at a rally held Aug. 10.

"We are against gun violence in our city like we don’t want police shootings. We don’t want gun violence," said Shayana Dabney, president of CSU-Pueblo's Black Student Union.

The protests were intended to be peaceful, but police had to intervene during a protest on Aug. 5 when two bail bondsman drove up on motorcycles and showed their weapons.

"They did have guns on their hips. They approached the crowd. There was some sort of verbal exchange with the crowd, and then a physical altercation broke out with those individuals. During that fight, one if not both of those individuals did draw their sidearms," Sokolik said. “Officers did respond to that. There continued to be some altercation in the crowd, the police did respond. They did take those individuals into custody. And they have been arrested at this point.

"... It’s very concerning. It’s a constitutional right to peacefully protest and address the government when you’re upset. And that’s what we’re here to do, is to protect people’s civil liberties and their constitutional rights."

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An independent investigation

Colorado law calls for an outside law enforcement agency to investigate officer-involved shootings. Traditionally, the investigating agency is a neighboring one. In most CSPD cases, the El Paso County Sheriff's Office has been the investigating agency, and then the findings are passed on to the 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office.

Representatives of the Bailey family have argued this arrangement will not allow for impartiality.

"The very notion of due process in our country and our constitution requires a fair and partial investigation, and it cannot be done by the city itself. And I’m here to tell you it cannot be done by El Paso County either," said attorney Darold Killmer. "... The family of De’Von Bailey is entitled to rely upon the honesty and the forthright and thorough impartial investigation. And that’s what we’re demanding.”

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Mayor calls for patience

Prior to the release of the body-cam footage Thursday, Mayor John Suthers called on the public to wait for investigators to release their findings before reaching a conclusion.

"There is a great deal of evidence being gathered, and you really cannot come to any conclusion until all of the evidence is gathered. What you're applying is a Colorado statute that says under what circumstances police officers can use deadly force, and it has to do with whether they reasonably believe they're in imminent fear of bodily injury or death.

"... You can't look at a snippet such as the [surveillance video] in which a person's -- something's transpired and the person's running from it. You can't tell when the shots are fired or whether the shots have already been fired, and you have no clue lookking at that what transpired to that, and that's going to be very vitally important evidence."

Suthers said the investigation would likely take a couple of months.

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El Paso County Sheriff's Office releases statement

The sheriff's office announced last week they would be releasing the footage earlier than usual. Typically, body-camera footage has been released after the 4th Judicial District has reached a decision on charges.

"The nation is grappling with difficult issues. Our community is not immune. The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and the Colorado Springs Police Department have received multiple requests for the body-worn camera footage from the officers involved in the shooting last weekend. The Board of County Commissioners has also heard concerns from citizens throughout the County.

In order for the community to heal and come together, the investigation must be done correctly. To that end, we support transparency and the release of the footage. While CSPD is the ultimate releasing authority, we agree the release of the footage should be done at a time when it will not compromise the integrity of the investigation.

We are sensitive to the desire for the community to have all the facts and we ask for patience during this difficult time.

“The fabric of our community is strong and working together in difficult times will make us even stronger,” said El Paso County Commissioner Longinos Gonzalez. “While we wait for answers, I urge everyone to come together and show the nation that El Paso County can get through these tough times the right way.”

About 30 minutes after El Paso County sent out the statement, Colorado Springs Police sent a release stating the body-worn camera footage is expected to be released by the end of next week.

"Following the Sheriff’s Office’s announcement on the pending conclusion of its investigation in the Devon Bailey case next week, CSPD anticipates releasing body-worn camera footage from two responding officers at that time," a statement from the City of Colorado Springs read. "The footage scheduled for release captured the moments leading up to, including and immediately following the shooting. As the releasing authority, CSPD has committed to releasing the footage only at such a time when it will not jeopardize or compromise the investigative or judicial process. We thank the community for its patience as we work through the process required to effectively investigate an officer-involved shooting."

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Bailey family attorneys release statement

Killmer released a statement about an hour after the footage was released Thursday afternoon.

Today the City of Colorado Springs released some of the video evidence in the shooting death of De’Von Bailey on August 3, 2019. Many members of the media have inquired as to whether the family of De’Von Bailey has a statement in reaction to these videos.

Today at 2:00 p.m. the lawyers for the Bailey Family will hold a press conference to provide such a statement. The family is devastated at having seen this evidence of the wholly unjustified killing of their beloved family member. Since the wake for De’Von Bailey is today and the funeral is tomorrow, and given the circumstances, the parents of De’Von will not be available for public comment today, as they are grieving and attending to the burial of their son. We request that the media and the public respect their privacy during this profoundly difficult time.

The law of Colorado and the United States Constitution prohibit a law enforcement officer from shooting and killing a fleeing suspect unless the officer has probable cause to believe the suspect is imminently about to cause death or serious bodily injury to the officer or a 3rd party.

AS THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT HELD OVER 30 YEARS AGO:

“The use of deadly force to prevent the escape of all felony suspects, whatever the circumstances, is constitutionally unreasonable. It is not better that all felony suspects die than that they escape. Where the suspect poses no immediate threat to the officer and no threat to others, the harm resulting from failing to apprehend him does not justify the use of deadly force to do so.”

Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1, 11, 105 S. Ct. 1694, 1701 (1985)

The video evidence released today demonstrates that De’Von was not presenting any threat to the officers who shot and killed him while he attempted to flee. In addition, there is not a shred of evidence that De’Von presented an imminent threat or risk that he was imminently about to use a gun to harm anyone else. Instead, it is clear that he was merely trying to get away from the situation. Even if the officers had legitimate concern that a suspect might escape, the law strictly specifies that it is only when the officers have evidence that a person is in imminent risk of death or serious bodily harm may that officer use deadly force – a gun – to stop a person from fleeing.

We will continue to update this story as new developments come in.