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Family Wants Independent Probe In Fatal Police Shooting Of Teen In Colorado

A screenshot from video recently released by the Colorado Springs Police Department, which captured the moments before De'Von Bailey ran from police and was shot in the back on Aug. 3. He later died from his injuries.
Photo by Colorado Springs Police Department.
A screenshot from video recently released by the Colorado Springs Police Department, which captured the moments before De'Von Bailey ran from police and was shot in the back on Aug. 3. He later died from his injuries.

Updated at 9:13 p.m. ET

When Sgt. Alan Van't Land of the Colorado Springs Police Department approaches two young black men in the 2100 block of Preuss Road in Colorado Springs, he tells them he is responding to a call about a possible assault.

He says the men match suspect descriptions and he has been informed one of them may have a gun.

"So don't reach for your waist. We're gonna just check and make sure that you don't have a weapon. All right?" Van't Land says, according to body camera footage released Thursday.

Four seconds pass.

As another officer approaches the men, one of them, De'Von Bailey, takes off running.

"Hands up! Hands up!" the officers yell.

Then a torrent of officer gunfire is unleashed and Bailey falls to the ground.

At least eight shots can be heard on the video of the Aug. 3 incident. Bailey, 19, later died in the hospital.

According to the El Paso County coroner, Bailey was shot four times — three times in the back and a fourth time in the right arm. An autopsy declared the manner of death to be homicide.

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, police had claimed Bailey reached for a firearm prior to running from the officers and being shot.

This is not apparent from the police video. And it's a point underscored by Bailey family attorney Darold Killmer, who spoke to reporters on Thursday.

"Mr. Bailey was trying desperately to flee from the police and he did not have a weapon in his hand. And had not shown any weapon when he was shot in the back and killed," Killmer said.

"The police appear to argue that they shot Mr. Bailey because they feared he was going for a gun at the time. We think the video shows otherwise."

Killmer also reiterated to reporters that the family is calling for an independent investigation rather than having county officials lead a probe into the incident.

After Bailey was shot, Van't Land and another officer, Blake Evenson, said they discovered "something between his legs" and then cut off Bailey's shorts. An object can been seen in the clothing, but it was not clear from the video what it was.

Colorado Public Radio reports that at a wake Thursday, pastor Terry Thomas, a family friend, said those who approached Bailey's open casket "looked broken."

"I can see the questions in their heart, I can see the thought bubbles a little bit, about why did this have to happen and it's, of course, the tears and the moaning and the wailing is going on as an outward expression of what they're feeling on the inside right now," Thomas told CPR reporters.

CPB also reports the El Paso County Sheriff's Department is leading the investigation of the case. Its findings are expected to be released to District Attorney Dan May on Friday.

According to KMGH-TV, an ABC News affiliate in Denver, both Van't Land and Evenson are veterans of the Colorado Springs Police Department. Van't Land has served since 2008; Evenson, since 2012.

Both officers, according to the news station, had been placed on administrative leave. However, by late Friday the two officers had returned to active duty, according to police spokeswoman Natashia Kerr, as cited bythe Gazette. Kerr said under department protocol, officers involved in shootings are placed on administrative leave for "approximately three days," the paper reported.

"In my humble opinion, the black and brown citizens of Colorado Springs are not safe with these officers on the street," Terry Thomas, pastor of Lifting Up Jesus Church, said, as quoted by the Associated Press.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Brakkton Booker is a National Desk reporter based in Washington, DC.
Richard Gonzales is NPR's National Desk Correspondent based in San Francisco. Along with covering the daily news of region, Gonzales' reporting has included medical marijuana, gay marriage, drive-by shootings, Jerry Brown, Willie Brown, the U.S. Ninth Circuit, the California State Supreme Court and any other legal, political, or social development occurring in Northern California relevant to the rest of the country.
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