Family of De’Von Bailey files wrongful death lawsuit

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COLORADO SPRINGS — De’Von Bailey’s family is filing a federal lawsuit against the city of Colorado Springs and the two officers who fatally shot Bailey last summer, family attorneys announced Thursday.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court on behalf of Bailey’s estate, which is represented by his parents Delisha Searcy and Greg Bailey, and his child, who is represented by mother Laquana Gardner. Gardner, Bailey’s girlfriend, was pregnant with their child when he was killed.

“The reason for the lawsuit is so this behavior stops. It needs to end now,” Searcy’s attorney Dan Kay said.

The lawsuit names the city of Colorado Springs and the two officers who fired at Bailey as defendants. It alleges police violated Bailey’s constitutional rights and used excessive force. It also claims Bailey’s death was a result of racially biased policing.

Bailey, 19, was killed on August 3, 2019, after CSPD officers were called to investigate a report of an armed robbery. Sgt. Alan Van’t Land and Officer Blake Evenson both fired at Bailey as he tried to run away. An autopsy revealed he was shot three times in the back and once in the arm.

“Literally what happened to De’Von was his worst nightmare, and he probably thought it was going to happen the way it happened,” Searcy, De’Von’s mom, said.

The shooting sparked several days of protests in Colorado Springs.

“I feel like there has to be some type of accountability for Devon’s murder,” Searcy said.

The two officers were placed on routine administrative leave and were back on duty by August 16. On August 22, Gov. Jared Polis called for an independent review of the shooting. In November, a grand jury ruled the two officers were justified in using deadly force.

“‘He looked afraid in the video. As soon I watched it, I thought, ‘oh gosh, he is so scared.’ When I watched it, he started running because he was afraid,”‘ Searcy said.

In March, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced it would not pursue criminal charges against the officers.

Lawrence Stoker, who was with Bailey at the time of the shooting, was charged with assault in connection with the alleged robbery. Stoker’s defense claimed the incident never occurred, and the alleged victim had called police because he was mad about losing a fight. On November 21, Stoker was acquitted of all charges.

Thursday’s lawsuit comes as demonstrators nationwide are taking to the streets to demand justice for George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis police custody last week.

“I hope it places accountability for the laws, as well as some reform,” Searcy said.

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, who conducted the initial investigation into the shooting, said they could not comment on pending litigation.

“I hope it makes CSPD, the mayor, and the District Attorney look at their laws in a human perspective. Where would it ever makes sense to shoot first, kill, then ask questions later,” Searcy said.

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