Attorney: De’Von Bailey Police Shooting May Be First-Degree Murder

A screen capture from video showing the police shooting of De'Von Bailey.
A screen capture from video showing the police shooting of De'Von Bailey. Denver7
At 11:30 a.m. today, August 13, a press conference in Colorado Springs will call for the immediate release of body-camera video and an independent investigation into the fatal shooting of nineteen-year-old De'Von Bailey by a member or members of the Colorado Springs Police Department. And while Denver attorney Darold Killmer, whose high-powered firm, Killmer, Lane & Newman, LLP, is among those representing the Bailey family, wants to see what the cops' body cams captured before definitely declaring if criminal charges are warranted against the officers, and what kind, he says surveillance footage on view below suggests that the counts should be the most serious available.

"They shot De'Von seven times in the back as he was trying to get away from them," Killmer says of the incident. "If it plays out that he was not reaching for a gun, this is cold-blooded murder — and cold-blooded murder should be prosecuted as first-degree murder against the officers."

Around 6:45 p.m. on August 3, according to the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, which is currently handling the inquiry, CSPD officers were dispatched following what's described as "a report of a personal robbery in the 2400 block of East Fountain Boulevard" in the Springs. At the scene, the officers are said to have interviewed the robbery victim, who identified two suspects, including Bailey, who's African American. The cops subsequently "contacted the suspects, and during the encounter, one suspect reached for a firearm," the ECSO maintains, adding, "at least one officer fired a shot at the suspect."

As seen in the surveillance images, originally obtained by the Colorado Springs Gazette, this last observation is a tremendous understatement. The audio-free video shows Bailey running away from the officers before falling to the pavement after being shot. In the footage available, Bailey neither holds nor brandishes a gun.

Warning: The video may disturb some viewers.

The assertion that Bailey, who was scheduled to go on trial circa January 2020 for attempted sex assault on a child-pattern of abuse and attempted sex assault on a child-position of trust, pulled a gun on the cops strikes Killmer as highly dubious. "None of the witnesses have confirmed that so far," he stresses, "which is why we need to see the body-cam video."

He may not have to wait for long. A joint statement from the City of Colorado Springs and the CSPD asserts that the department plans to release recordings made by both officers "following the sheriff office’s announcement on the pending conclusion of its investigation" this week. Nonetheless, Killmer says, "I'll believe it when I see it."

Meanwhile, he thinks that neither the sheriff's office nor the El Paso County District Attorney's office should be looking into the matter. He points out that "Peter Carey, the former chief of the Colorado Springs Police Department, left that position and went to the sheriff's office," which he joined as undersheriff in March. "We don't believe that's independent, and we don't believe that will cause the community to see this as a fair investigation. And the local DA's office has conflicts of interest, too. They rely on the Colorado Springs Police Department when they're prosecuting all their crimes, so they have an institutional conflict not to upset the CSPD."

For that reason, Killmer goes on, "the family is calling for an independent special prosecutor, and we believe the CSPD should reach out to the Colorado Attorney General's office, Phil Weiser's office, which has the expertise and experience in this type of thing, and the sort of independence that will more likely yield confidence in the results."

That hasn't happened yet, and Killmer sees it as unfortunate given his view that "Colorado prosecutors have an absolutely appalling record of letting law enforcement officers get away with brutality and killings. They should be prosecuted like any other citizens."

Killmer, whose firm is collaborating with Colorado Springs attorney Daniel Kay on the case, stresses that Bailey's family "is obviously devastated. His mother and father live in Georgia, but his mother is in Colorado Springs right now, and he had friends and family all around him — aunts and uncles who are all devastated, too. He was just at the beginning of his life, and now that's all been taken away by hasty and reckless action by the police."

The Colorado Springs Police Department isn't commenting on the case owing to the ongoing inquiry, and the officers in question have not been publicly identified. But Killmer feels that "if they made up the excuse of De'Von reaching for a gun and nonetheless shot him in the back as he was running away, the strongest possible criminal prosecution is warranted, up to and including first-degree murder."

The press conference will be held at 11:30 a.m. at the Colorado Springs Police Operations Center, 702 South Nevada, and members of Bailey's family and other community leaders are expected to attend. Get more information at this Facebook events page.
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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