By Gaby Jadotte
During the month of August, most Colorado College students are mentally preparing themselves for a hectic new school year. Local Colorado Springs news is typically the last thing on students’ minds. But on Aug. 3, Colorado Springs made national news headlines when two on-duty Colorado Springs Police Department officers shot and killed a 19-year-old Springs local named De’Von Bailey.
After much insistence from the family and their attorney, a bodycam video from the shooting was released on Aug. 15. The video begins with the officers, Sergeant Alan Van’t Land and Officer Blake Evenson, stopping Bailey and his cousin Lawrence Stoker because they matched the descriptions of two people who had committed an armed robbers. The officers said that they would be searching for weapons, at which point Bailey began running away from the police while reaching for something in his pocket. Both police officers opened fire at this point, shooting Bailey as he fell to the ground.
The autopsy report revealed three gunshot wounds in Bailey’s back and one in his right arm, a finding consistent with the video evidence. Van’t Land and Evanson handcuffed Bailey while he was on the ground, stating that they should search him for weapons. The officers first attempted to tug off his shorts but then cut them off while Bailey was still alive on the ground. Once his pants were cut, Van’t Land and Evenson began administering first aid, but Bailey was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
Though this may seem like many other police shootings that have been prevalently featured on the news in recent years, the Bailey shooting has many different layers. Bailey was armed at the time he was shot, and the officers claim that he and his cousin both matched the descriptions of the robbers they were investigating. And unlike most of the high-profile police shootings seen on the news, the Bailey family has stated during press conferences that “the shooting is not a ‘Black Lives Matter’ issue.”
“I don’t want to make this about ‘Black Lives Matter’ or anything, because all of our lives matter,” Greg Bailey, De’Von Bailey’s father, said. “I know everyone says that my son was killed by a white cop, and he’s a Black man in the community.”
“Yes, those are facts, but that’s not what this is about,” he added. “This is [about] what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong. And what’s wrong is that my son was shot in the back by law enforcement.” Bailey went on to say that the family wants justice for “what was wrongfully done.”
The El Paso County Sheriff’s department has started an investigation into the CSPD, but has allowed both officers to continue working during the investigation. At a press conference in front of City Hall, the Bailey family, their attorney, and close supporters raised concerns about the transparency and authenticity of the investigation. Mari Newman, one of the attorneys for the Bailey family, is calling for the Colorado Attorney General’s office to pick up the investigation. Newman claims that the two departments in question are too intertwined and integrated to properly conduct an independent and unbiased investigation that would bring justice to the situation. In her own words, “What we don’t want to see is a so-called investigation that’s designed to achieve a certain result in exoneration of the officers … the community deserves to know what happened and De’Von’s family deserves to know what happened.” The El Paso Sheriff’s department has yet to respond to the requests, but the Bailey family has said they will continue to push for an independent investigation into the officers’ actions. On Aug. 22, in a groundbreaking decision, Gov. Jared Polis called for an independent investigation,
For students who want to support the Bailey Family and stay updated with organized events, follow the Facebook page “REST IN POWER De’Von Bailey.” The next organized action is taking place at the Colorado Springs City Council on Tuesday Sept. 10 at 10 a.m.