COLORADO SPRINGS — Thirty-seven days after De’Von Bailey was shot and killed, supporters of the 19-year-old and his family took the conversation to Colorado Springs City Council after weeks of silence.
“Why does our city’s councilors ignore us until we fill up the room and demand that you stop ignoring us?” said Shaun Walls.
Walls created an online petition with nearly 3,000 signatures calling for an independent investigation into the August 3 officer-involved shooting.
On that day, Colorado Springs officers responded to an armed robbery call in the southeast side of the city. They contacted two suspects, one being De’Von Bailey, that matched the description given to them. Less than a minute after officers began talking to the two, Bailey ran as an officer approached him from behind. Officer-worn body camera video shows Bailey’s hand near his waist as he runs and officers shoot at him eight times. Four of the bullets hit Bailey, three in the back, according to the coroner’s report. Officers did find a pistol in a holster inside Bailey’s shorts.
During the council meeting, Walls said their appearance isn’t about Bailey’s guilt or innocence, but greater neglect to their community, exemplified by his death.
“I want to know why you haven’t said anything publicly, especially our district rep.” Walls said.
The district where the neighbor resides is in the 4th Council District, represented by Councilor Yolanda Avila. Avila told the supporters City Hall belonged to them before public comment began, but offered no reaction following the dozens of speakers to the council.
The shooting happened in a cul-de-sac backed by a park where witnesses say families were hanging out on that Saturday evening.
“Dozens of people in that particular community, as I speak today, are traumatized. Children, men, women, seniors, saw that murder and they are traumatized.” said Reverend Promise Lee, “They have not received any counseling. They have not received any condolences from our city leaders. They don’t know what to do.”
Lee has largely been the public face of the outrage brewing in the southeastern side of town, many referred to as “K-Line.” Many people at the meeting said they don’t feel safe in their neighborhood and the police only reinforce their fears.
“Do we want our children to fear police? No we don’t. We want them to respect them.” said one activist, Regina.
Regina said in order for there to be respect, they need transparency. That, and an investigation conducted outside of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and Fourth Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
The people who spoke voiced their frustration about the neglect for the area and they asked the council three main things. The first two are asking District Attorney Dan May to recuse himself, making way for an independent investigation, and to create a citizen’s oversight board for law enforcement for these kinds of situations.
Bill Murray, one of just two councilors to speak to the supporters following their hours of public comment, said he supports what they are requesting. He did warn them he tried to create a citizen review board four years ago, only to be shut down by the mayor.
“I will promise you that I will reengage. I will ask for a citizen review committee and a independent investigation.” Murray said.
People’s third request was for Mayor John Suthers and city council members to visit the neighborhood where the shooting happened.
“I just wonder how often you all go to K Line? How often do you spend time in that community and see how policing has affected them?” said Ian Bruner, one of the supporters to speak.
The other councilor who reacted to the community’s concerns was David Geislinger. He says he understands the need to listen in the wake of differing perspectives and distrust in order to create a broader and more authnetic engagment on these issues.
“There are issues obviously of race that need to be addressed that need to be opened up and we can’t rely on an incident happening to bring it to our [attention]. So please, come. We need to have the discussion.” Geislinger said.
Mayor Suthers was in attendance. He reacted very little or not at all to the people who spoke, including the ones addressing him directly.
After the meeting he did release a statement:
“We heard today from members of the community who are experiencing a great deal of emotion around the officer-involved shooting of De’Von Bailey, and I empathize with all impacted. Regardless of the circumstances, the loss of a young life is very sad. It’s not an outcome that is ever desired, and it’s not an easy thing to process. I know there are very different perspectives on the incident itself and feelings of grief, anger and questioning that come from these different perspectives. As we await a legal resolution of this case, I urge our community to embrace a spirit of healing.
As for calls for an independent investigation, as the Mayor, I do not have the authority to take the case from the elected DA. I also have no reason to urge it, as there is no legal or ethical conflict of interest that I am aware of. I would point out that the FBI and [Department of Justice] have jurisdiction to review the matter and it’s my understanding that they are doing so.”
As of the end of Tuesday’s council meeting, the position of the Colorado Springs City Council as a whole is reflective of the mayor’s.
FOX21 News reached out to the Denver division of the FBI, which says it is their responsibility to review all instances of officer-involved shootings in order to determine if there is a civil rights violation. They are openly communicating with the CSPD, EPSO, and District Attorney’s Office.
Despite Murray’s and the community’s desire for an independent investigation, the council’s hands are tied on the legal avenues to create an independent investigation.
Citizens still expressed, the steps they could take in doing so anyway.
“This is an opportunity to restore our trust in the leadership of this city and I’m counting on you to do that on behalf of all the citizens of Colorado Springs.” said Rev. Nori Rost of the Unitarian Universalist Church.