COLORADO SPRINGS — The first thing retired El Paso County Sheriff’s Detective Mark Pfoff noticed about the security video that captured part of the deadly Colorado Springs officer-involved shooting on August 3, is how little of the situation it shows.
“This is only about 20-30 seconds of video that shows you a portion of the confrontation,” said Pfoff.
Pfoff runs a law enforcement consulting firm, often testifying on behalf of defendants. He has been qualified as an expert in police procedures and investigation in court.
Still, watching the video that shows the tail end of a contact CSPD had with 19-year-old De’von Bailey that ultimately claimed Bailey’s life, is difficult.
“It obviously doesn’t look good.” said Pfoff, “It actually creates more questions that it does answers.”
The video shows Bailey enter from the left of the frame, take a few running steps, and flail his arms. Seconds after officers enter the frame, Bailey falls to the ground.
A closer analysis reveals puffs of smoke coming from the ground and a nearby curb. Pfoff says that indicates officers were still firing their weapons as Bailey had his back turned to them.
“So, what was their perceived danger to themselves or to anyone else that justified them continuing to shoot at him at that point?” He asked.
Two supreme court cases, Tennessee vs. Gardner in 1985 and Graham vs. Connor in 1989 laid out the criteria law enforcement must meet when shooting a suspect with their back turned and fleeing law enforcement.
In Tennessee vs. Gardner, Pfoff said, the suspect must be causing a risk to officers or to someone else, thus justifying the use of deadly force.
In Graham vs. Connor, the use of deadly force must meet an “objective reasonableness” based on the circumstances known to the officer. Pfoff said that’s up to the investigating agency to determine.
In light of recent protests following this deadly shooting, Pfoff said the community owes it to the officers currently under routine paid administrative leave, to wait until the full video and information is released before jumping to conclusions.
Those protests were sparked when a witness reported Bailey had been shot in the back seven times, a claim that has not been corroborated, but highlights the urgent need for a timely release of information.
According to the limited details released at the scene by Colorado Springs Police and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department, the incident began when officers responded to a robbery call. Upon talking to the victim, officers made contact with two suspects. One of those suspects, they said, reached for a gun in his waistband. A gun was also recovered from the scene.
“The video’s just not quite clear enough. I don’t see them secure a weapon but, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen,” said Pfoff.
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office is the lead investigating agency in the case. The 4th Judicial District will determine whether the shooting was justified or not.
“The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office owes it to the community to release information as quickly as possible. Especially if they know it exonerates these officers, don’t live in silence and say, ‘Well it’s an on-going investigation and we’re not going to release it for six months.’ They owe it to the community to hold a press conference in the next few days.” said Pfoff.
EPCSO has said responding officers were recording the incident on their body cameras. FOX21 News has requested that video.