The August 3 fatal police shooting of De'Von Bailey in Colorado Springs exploded into the public consciousness last month with the release of body-camera video that showed officers gunning down the nineteen-year-old from behind. Shortly thereafter, Governor Jared Polis called for an independent investigation — a suggestion that was rejected by local authorities, who expect that the inquiry into the matter could last months.
Meanwhile, a video of another Colorado police shooting that took place just two days later, on August 5, has surfaced, and it shows an incident with eerie similarities to the Bailey case. In it, a man running away is fatally shot in the back by a member of the police department in the Western Slope community of Rifle — and although the man had a gun in his pocket, as Bailey did, he never brandished it at any law enforcement officer.
The video showing the final moments of 57-year-old Allan George is on view below. (Warning: Its contents may disturb some readers.)
The man behind the video's release is attorney David Lane, whose Denver-based law firm, Killmer, Lane & Newman, LLP, also represents Bailey's family, in conjunction with Springs lawyer Daniel Kay. His clients this time around are George's relatives, who are currently declining to talk publicly about the death. So Lane is speaking for them, and his words are blunt.
"I believe this was cold-blooded murder and local law enforcement is covering it up with a whitewash, bogus investigation," he maintains.
George was no stranger to the cops. He was busted in 2008 on a sexual-exploitation-of-a-child charge for which he ultimately served four years of probation. He was pulled over on the Colorado River bridge between the Interstate 70 exit and Whiteriver Avenue on August 5 regarding an active warrant for the same offense; Lane reveals that he was suspected of possessing child pornography.
The description of what went down that was posted by the Rifle Police Department on its Facebook page mentions a "vehicle stop" during which "two officers made contact with the subject" in an episode that "unfortunately led to shots being fired. A weapon not belonging to the officers was found at the scene. The subject was transported by ambulance to the hospital by Colorado River Fire Rescue. No officers were injured."
Two days later, the Garfield County coroner's office put out a news release stating that George had died from "gunshot wounds of the chest," which led some people to assume that he had been hit by bullets from the front. But after a brief snippet of cell-phone video showing that George was fleeing when hit was shared with the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (it had been circulating on SnapChat), coroner Robert Glassmire explained that the term "chest" referred to the region of the body where the damage was done and wasn't meant to imply anything about entry points. An updated autopsy from August 22 confirmed that the shots came from the rear and were fired at a considerable distance.
That's clear from the newly available video, seen below.
In the footage, George can be seen holding a gun to his chest. "He never pointed his gun at anyone but himself," Lane emphasizes.
Over the course of the conversation in the clip, which goes on for around three minutes or so and is mostly unintelligible from an audio standpoint, George puts the gun in his pocket and appears to be threatening to jump; he's initially on the far side of a guardrail as an officer trains a weapon at him from behind the open door of his police vehicle. But he eventually climbs back onto the roadway and begins jogging in the opposite direction.
At that point, the officer moves to follow him and fires an unknown number of shots. George soon tumbles to the ground.
The agency charged with investigating the shooting is the Garfield County Sheriff's Office. But within days of George's death, the GSCO put out a release of its own that implied conclusions were already tilting in the direction of finding the officers' actions justified.
"The suspect was originally stopped on an active warrant," the document states. "He surfaced with a weapon in hand. Officers confronted him. The suspect would not comply with directives. For the health, safety and welfare of the general public as well as the Officers present, shots were fired."
That's not good enough for Lane. "The U.S. Supreme Court in Garner v. Tennessee held that deadly force can be used on a fleeing felon if the officer is in 'reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury or death,'" he notes. Because he doesn't believe such a circumstance was present in this case, Lane says, "We will approach the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate and a civil rights lawsuit will soon be filed in Denver federal court."
Similar promises have been made in the case of De'Von Bailey.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.