De’von Bailey was a 19-year old Black man shot in the back four times by Colorado Springs police in 2019.
The city of Colorado Springs has approved a settlement worth $2.97 million in a lawsuit brought by the family of Bailey, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.
Three years ago in 2019, the two officers that shot Bailey, police Sgt. Alan Van’t Land and officer Blake Evenson, were not criminally charged and a jury found that the officers were justified in using deadly force, despite the fact he was running away from them when he was fatally shot.
According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, the lawsuit claims wrongful death, denial of equal protection, excessive force and that the officers were being racially discriminatory.
From the Gazette:
In an interview with The Gazette, Lawrence Stoker, Bailey’s cousin who was also stopped by police that day, said no amount of money would bring his cousin back. Stoker, 21, was not part of the settlement.
“I’m happy they’re getting the money, but I’m not happy that he’s dead — can’t no money replace that,” he said, referring to Bailey’s estate. “That’s a start but there’s a bunch more that could be done. Holding them accountable a lot more would be a big first step,” he added, referring to the policy changes the city promised to make as part of the settlement.
In a statement, Delisha Searcy, Bailey’s mother, said she hoped the non-monetary portions of the settlement would prevent similar deaths.
“My heart is broken at the loss of my son, but I am hopeful that the changes in the Colorado Springs Police Department will prevent another family from losing a child,” she said.
The Colorado Springs City Council agreed to provide two years of anti-bias training to the Colorado Springs Police Department to ensure race does not play a role when officers think they are at risk and to improve overall performance by officers in the city, according to the Gazette.
If a settlement was not reached by the city, they risked going to trial and paying any amount determined by a verdict over $1 million under the city’s insurance policy.
In a statement from the Police Department, they said, according to the Gazette, “this settlement is not, in any way, an admission or indication of wrongdoing by these officers.” Both Van’t Land and Evenson are still working for the department, Lt. Jim Sokolik said.
According to the Gazette, others have opposed the settlement saying the city should’ve supported the officers who were just following their training. Councilman Mike O’Malley said, “The federal government doesn’t pay hostage money. They don’t do it. ... I think we should stand up and do the right thing for our community.”
More from the Gazette:
The high-profile case started when Bailey and his cousin, Stoker, were stopped by police investigating a report of an armed robbery on Aug. 3, 2019, in a neighborhood southeast of Memorial Park. Both were later found to be innocent of robbery.
Police body camera footage showed officers approach Bailey and Stoker and question them about the reported robbery. When one of the officers attempts to search Bailey for a gun, he dropped his arms, turned and ran away, the video shows.
Police said Bailey failed to comply with shouted orders to raise his hands. He is seen in the video running with his hands in front of him.
Officers Van’t Land and Evenson shot Bailey four times in the back and elbow, because they were reportedly fearful he was reaching for a gun.
The bodycam footage released by investigators confirmed Bailey was armed, showing officers removing a pistol from his pocket after he was on the ground in handcuffs.
The footage, along with video from a surveillance camera obtained by The Gazette, led to demonstrations protesting police brutality and claims of racism.
According to the Gazette, more discourse on the police department’s policies is expected in the coming months and an analysis of the department’s use of force will be released in March. There will also be a review from the Law Enforcement Transparency and Accountability Commission on the study and actionable steps the police department needs to take.