(COLORADO SPRINGS) — In response to an officer-involved incident at the Citadel Mall where a 19-year-old died, a local advocacy group held a protest at City Hall, calling on the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD) to release unedited bodycam footage from the incident.
Around 15 people gathered at City Hall on Saturday, April 29, for a peaceful protest, organized by the Colorado Springs People’s Coalition. Protestors were advocating for 19-year-old Brandon Harris, who died on April 3, during an officer-involved incident at the Citadel Mall.
In its most recent Significant Event Briefing, CSPD released a video explaining the April 3 incident in which they state that Harris died by suicide after he shot himself. The video briefing, which shows body cam footage and mall surveillance footage, was edited with commentary.
“So the police footage is, in our eyes, illegitimate because it’s spliced and, has commentary. So it was one of the demands today was for the call of the complete unaltered body cam footage and from all angles because there is more than just the two officers,” said Brandon Rincon, the interim chair of the Colorado Springs Peoples Coalition.
According to the briefing, a CSPD officer fired a total of three shots at Harris, none of which hit him. Harris then apparently shot himself shortly afterward. The briefing shows body cam footage of this exchange from two officers at different angles, as well as surveillance footage that shows what appears to be Harris, pointing a gun at his head.
Protestors allege that it was actually the CSPD officer’s shots that killed Harris and that the department manipulated the body cam video through their edits to cover this up. Protestors think that the full body camera footage from all officers involved in the April 3 incident will prove this.
“The police did not tell the truth… They shot that man, they shot him up… and they killed that man,” said Simone Natasha Hunter, a protestor who says she was a witness at the April 3 incident.
Harris’ parents, who were at the protest said they want to know why body cam footage from only two officers was shown when there were multiple officers were involved. Without all the footage, they say they don’t feel like they have the full story of their son’s death.
FOX21 reached out to CSPD for a comment on these accusations and whether they would be releasing the full body camera footage, but they have yet to respond.
Harris’ death is being investigated as a suicide by self-inflicted means, though the El Paso County Coroner will determine his cause and manner of death. The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office (EPSO) is the lead investigative agency, and CSPD said evidence suggests none of the officer’s rounds hit Harris.
CSPD released this video briefing as part of its new Significant Event transparency policy, with the goal of building trust within the community. Protestors say that this most recent briefing had the opposite effect.
“They may try and come off as transparent, but they’re really not. They’re just pushing their narrative… They know what they’re doing,” said Rincon.