Colorado Springs, CO — Angry protests have erupted in Colorado Springs after two police officers were captured on surveillance footage chasing down 19-year-old De'Von Bailey, shooting him in the back, killing him. The video of the August 3 shooting was just released this week sparking protests and anger from the community who says the shooting was unnecessary and nothing short of murder.
According to police, they were dispatched to the area around 6:45 p.m. on Saturday over reports of a robbery. Police claim they detained two men, Bailey and another man, when Bailey allegedly reached for a weapon and police shot him. But the video shows no such weapon, nor does it show Bailey reaching for anything.
In the video, we see Bailey running from police with his hands out to his sides. No weapon can be seen. What's more, Bailey is wearing gym shorts and anyone who has ever held a pistol knows that gym shorts make it nearly impossible to hold a gun in your waistband.
Nevertheless, two officers are seen shooting Bailey in the back as he ran.
“He appears to be shot in his back as he is running away, wearing gym shorts and a T-shirt,” John Burton, a 40-year lawyer and former board president of the National Police Accountability Project said. “And even if he is armed, that’s not enough to justify a shooting generally, unless the weapon is being used or threatened to be used, which I don’t see it (on the video). He is definitely not reaching in his waistband and about to shoot the officers.”
However, according to the Gazette, Adam Bercovici, a former 30-year police officer in Los Angeles, disagreed, saying officers could be justified in shooting Bailey, even if he didn’t have a gun. If he had committed an armed crime, “an officer could be justified in using force in stopping them from escaping into the community.”
As the Gazette reports:
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Tennessee v. Garner in 1985 that an officer can use deadly force to prevent a suspect from escaping only if the officer believes the suspect poses a significant threat of death or severe physical injury to the officer or others.
Former police Officer John Bruzek, who later became a lawyer, said he would want to know the distance between the officers and Bailey and whether the police had other means of force, such as a Taser.
Bailey was shot near Adams Park, which is next to Adams Elementary School.
If the officers saw children in the park, said former policeman Bercovici, it could have affected their decision to shoot.
“You have to weigh the options,” he said. “Your (area) background has to be good. It always has to be good.”
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A teenager running away in gym shorts with his arms out in the air can hardly be considered a threat. However, police are likely already attempting to figure out ways to justify this barbaric killing.
Police claim to have found a weapon on the scene. However, given that no weapon is seen in the video and the fact that Bailey was wearing gym shorts — while running — likely means that this weapon was nowhere near the victim or it was planted by them. Also, as the footage shows, at no time do police disarm or otherwise move a weapon away from Bailey which would have been standard procedure for any arrest.
Adding to the suspicious nature of the shooting is the fact that police claim officers only fired a single round. Witnesses, on the other hand, report hearing at least seven shots as Bailey was gunned down from behind.
Police have refused to say whether or not the officers involved were equipped with body cameras, or if they have video of the shooting.
One of the many witnesses to the shooting, Elizabeth Powell, told the Gazette that she saw a patrol car pass her by as she walked to a nearby park to check on her children. She said she saw the officers detain Bailey and then kill him while her kids were still playing at the park. Powell said the park, which was in the line of fire, was full of other children.
”They could have killed my kids. Instead they killed somebody else’s,” she said.
Bailey is the seventh person shot by Colorado Springs police this year. Five of them were killed.