COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A late-breaking decision by a grand jury concerning the officer-involved shooting that killed 19-year-old De’Von Bailey in August came down on Wednesday evening.
The unanimous ruling found Colorado Springs Police Officers Sgt. Alan Van’t Land and Officer Blake Evenson were justified in their use of deadly force.
Speaking to a throng of reporters outside of the Teller County Courthouse, District Attorney Day May called the shooting a “horrible tragedy for our community”.
“It’s a kick and the gut to his family, but I am not one bit surprised, the system has been designed to exonerate the officer who killed De’Von,” said De’Von Bailey’s family attorney Mari Newman.
The shooting occurred on Saturday, August 3, when officers with CSPD were sent out on a report of a personal armed robbery.
On scene, the robbery victim identified two suspects to police, who made contact with both men. Officers say during that encounter, Bailey reached for a firearm and officers fired and shot Bailey as he tried to run away.
Bailey was taken to a local hospital where he died from his injuries.
The two officers involved were uninjured and were placed on routine administrative leave which is standard procedure.
May said the grand jury found the officers had reason to believe a gun had been used in a robbery, that the person was still armed, and that he was fleeing into an area where he could endanger other people.
“No officer ever wants to be involved in a shooting,” May said.
“It’s a tainted investigation presented by a biased District Attorney, this is the exact reason why we’ve been calling for an independent prosecutor from the very beginning,” said Newman.
“At least 30 law enforcement officers my office has prosecuted since I’ve been the elected district attorney. We hold the police to the same standards we hold the public, if an officer does a crime they should be prosecuted for it,” May said.
Colorado Springs Police Chief Vince Niski released a letter to the community following the announcement on Wednesday, staying in part, “There is no doubt that the community of Colorado Springs has been tested over the last few months. What happened on August 3, 2019, is something neither police officers nor citizens ever want to experience. The loss of a son, a friend, a community member, is a devastating event that impacts all of us.”
“The community can never have any faith in the viability and result in any kind of investigation, its bad for law enforcement and bad for the community and anybody seeking justice,” Newman said.
The initial investigation into the shooting was conducted by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office then turned its findings over to the district attorney’s office, who announced the decision to involve a grand jury.