Expert analyzes body camera video from fatal shooting

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COLORADO SPRINGS — Thursday, Colorado Springs police released videos from two officer-worn body cameras showing the events leading up to the moment when 19-year-old De’Von Bailey was shot and killed by CSPD officers.

In an autopsy report also released Thursday, the coroner found Bailey was hit with four bullets. In the video, the sound of eight shots can be heard.

It takes less than one minute from when the first officer gets out of his police cruiser until Bailey falls to the ground after the being hit with gunshots.

“It’s definitely not clear this is a good, legal shooting,” said Mark Pfoff, a retired detective with 27 years of police experience and a court-qualified police procedures expert.

Pfoff said the video raises more controversy around a situation already rife with emotions.

In the video, he says, a gun is not visible to officers until Bailey is already on the ground and in handcuffs.

“Based on what you see, the totality of the circumstances at the time, in this video, do you ever see a gun until he’s down and they’re securing it?,” Pfoff said. “You do now. So, at no point can they say they felt threatened and had to defend himself.”

He said, with the benefit of looking at the video frame by frame, he would have done things differently.

The video shows the first officer with his hand on his gun, but not drawn.

“I think they were justified in pulling their weapons,” Pfaff said. “The question is, at what point were they authorized to use deadly force against him? What you had was a foot pursuit, and it didn’t even last that long. So, they instantaneously made the decision the moment he started to run, they started to shoot, and they’re using the statement that his hands were down by his waist. Did they see a weapon?”

In addition to Colorado state statute, two Supreme Court cases guide the accepted instances where officers are authorized to use deadly force.

Tennessee vs. Gardner says in general terms: Is the suspect a threat to officers or the public?

Graham vs. Connor says, generally, based on what the officer knows about the situation, is the use of deadly force reasonable?

“What was going through their minds?,” Pfoff said. “You know that this guy is running towards a park with a bunch of people, we think he has a gun. But, then my question would be: ‘So you decide to shoot in the direction of these individuals?’ One of the first things we’re trained is, is be aware of your target and beyond.”

Pfoff is concerned with how the video is released, as well. The audio is enhanced. The video includes transcripts of dispatch audio provided. Several minutes of video from the two officers’ cameras are left unedited at first. But, in the video CSPD released, they play the footage again, this time with freeze frames.

“I don’t want to to say manipulated, but it’s obvious to me they knew when they released these body cams, it wasn’t going to go well,” Pfoff said. “So they wanted to make their point, so they do the freeze frames. They actually put into the video the statute that they think justifies the shooting. So, to me, that does concern me that they’re obviously trying to influence the community.”

Pfoff said the criminal case is just one step. He expects legal challenges and civil lawsuits to come from the case as well. Pfoff estimates it will be years before it will be resolved.

For now, the case has been turned over to Fourth Judicial District Attorney Dan May, for his decision on whether the shooting was justified or not.

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