Protest Watch

How "Bloody" DA's Office Vandalism Echoes Reaction to De'Von Bailey Case

Red paint was found splashed on the door of 4th Judicial District DA Dan May on the morning of November 15.
Red paint was found splashed on the door of 4th Judicial District DA Dan May on the morning of November 15. Special to Westword
On the morning of November 15, just over a day after a Colorado Springs grand jury declined to indict the police officers who shot and killed nineteen-year-old De'Von Bailey on August 3 while he was running away, red paint presumably meant to simulate blood was splashed on the entrance to the 4th Judicial District DA's office, which investigated and presented the case.

We don't know if this act of vandalism was meant as a protest against the grand jury's decision; no arrests have been made thus far, and a representative for the Colorado Springs Police Department says only that the incident remains under investigation. (The DA's office didn't respond to multiple inquiries from Westword.) But the timing is certainly suspicious given how Bailey family spokesperson Reverend Promise Lee describes the community's reaction to the development.

"There are a plethora of emotions revolving around the decision," Lee says. "One person compared it to the sort of shock they felt after the [2016] presidential election. Others who'd recently moved to Colorado Springs told me they thought this was a different kind of place, and I had to share with them the realities. This further widens the gap of distrust and a lack of faith in the judicial process."

Not that the grand jury's conclusion was completely unpredictable. On August 16, immediately following the release of body-camera footage from Sergeant Alan Van't Land and officer Blake Evenson, the two cops who responded to a now-disputed report of an attempted robbery, we outlined the prospects for prosecution of the officers in our story "How Cops May Get Away With De'Von Bailey Homicide." As that piece noted, Bailey had a gun at the time of the shooting — "deep within his basketball shorts," as Denver-based attorney Darold Killmer put it. The weapon was retrieved by the officers, who cut those shorts off Bailey after he hit the pavement on the 2400 block of East Fountain Boulevard in the Springs.

De'Von Bailey, left, with his cousin, Lawrence "Spazz" Stoker, holds his arms out shortly before the fatal police shooting on August 3. - CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
De'Von Bailey, left, with his cousin, Lawrence "Spazz" Stoker, holds his arms out shortly before the fatal police shooting on August 3.
City of Colorado Springs
Bailey can be seen reaching for his pocket at least twice during his interactions with Van't Land and Evenson. Early on in video captured by Van't Land, he shifts his hand in that direction and begins trying to snake his fingers into the opening in the fabric, only to immediately move both hands away from his body and then raise them over his head after being ordered to do so. In the Evenson material, Bailey appears to be moving a hand toward the pocket again while sprinting away from the officers, only to quickly abandon the effort when it becomes clear that getting access to it is impossible.

Of course, Bailey never came close to grabbing the gun, much less brandishing it at Van't Land and Evenson. In Killmer's view, his only thought within a second or two of making the decision to run appears to have been to keep running rather than to shoot at the cops or anyone else. He made it just a few steps before the first projectile tore into him.

Nonetheless, the grand jury determined there wasn't enough evidence to criminally charge the officers — and afterward, Delisha Searcy, Bailey's mother, vented her frustration on Facebook:
There was never a robbery, the other guy arrested is facing assault, this is just concerning, the laws in Colorado state that if they think there is a weapon they can use deadly force. CAN is the operative word. And the officer chose to kill my son when he begged to be added to the call he went there to KILL but in the same state there was a mass shooting in a theatre where so many people were killed.... but that man sits in jail until this day he was taken alive. I can go on and on about the injustices of Colorado because believe me I have done my research. They will be exposed they murdered my son and I will not let it go. We have to stand up for what is right. Ignore the ignorance of "others" because we already know how some of "them" feel about us. #LLDMB #NOJUSTICENOPEACE
Reverend Promise Lee at an August press conference about the De'Von Bailey police shooting. - DENVER7 VIA YOUTUBE
Reverend Promise Lee at an August press conference about the De'Von Bailey police shooting.
Denver7 via YouTube
The passion of this reaction makes sense to Lee. "First of all, we need to consider the Bailey family," he notes. "It's difficult to imagine the compounded pain and disappointment that they are experiencing. They are still grieving the loss of their loved one."

As he sees it, "There was a level of hope that there would be some harmony of thought as it pertains to justice for Devon Bailey. Unfortunately, the community has again witnessed the premeditated exclusion of any potential moral or ethical resolution. This is an accurate reflection and ethos of the power structure of our community. While the powers-that-be have placed primary emphasis and resources on building roads, they are simultaneously destroying neighborhoods and communities."

Lee points out that while Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers and a number of city council members "are advocating in the city budget for more police, interestingly enough, there are no monies allocated for better police training, recruitment or methods of accountability within policing."

"This again is clearly a reflection of the ethos of the power structure of our community," he continues. "And while attempting to project Colorado Springs as 'Olympic City,' others experience it as the Wild Wild West and Death Valley."
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts