Colorado Springs Officers Won't Be Charged in Death of Black Teen They Shot in the Back

Screenshot: Colorado Springs Police (ABC Denver Youtube)

A grand jury declined to press charges against two Colorado Springs police officers who were filmed shooting and killing a black teen earlier this year.

As BuzzFeed News reports, the jury decided Wednesday that the officers were justified in using deadly force, despite the fact that 19-year-old De’Von Bailey was running away from them at the time he was shot.

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The Aug. 3 shooting was captured on a police body camera, which also showed Sgt. Alan Van’t Land and officer Blake Evenson eventually retrieving a gun from Bailey’s shorts—but not until after he was already handcuffed and wounded.

Van’t Land and Evenson were called to investigate an armed robbery when they came across Bailey and a friend.

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“We got a report of two people similar descriptions possibly having a gun, alright?” Van’t Land tells the pair. “So don’t reach for your waist, we’re going to just check and make sure that you don’t have a weapon, alright?”

Bailey never points his gun at officers, nor does he make any motion toward them. As officer Evenson approaches him from the back, Bailey sprints to his right, away from the two cops. Van’t Land shoots him in the back, instantly bringing the teen down.

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District Attorney Dan May defended the grand jury’s decision to reporters on a Wednesday, noting that Colorado law leaves plenty of room for officers to use deadly force.

“Colorado law is very carefully crafted,” he said, according to BuzzFeed. “If the officer has a reasonable belief that the person has used a deadly weapon in a crime and is still armed, they can use deadly force to prevent that person from being a fleeing felon with that deadly weapon.”

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A Westword blog from early September reported that Van’t Land had been involved in another fatal shooting of a fleeing suspect in 2012. Three years prior to that, he was accused of beating up a 51-year-old man while attempting to enforce a protection order. The City of Colorado Springs paid out a $50,000 settlement in that case.

Bailey’s mother, Delisha Searcy, posted an emotional plea on Facebook in response to the grand jury’s decision.

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“The officer that murdered my baby will not be held responsible!!! They say it was justified,” she wrote. “PLEASE pray for me!!! My heart is heavy, it’s just not right!!!”

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About the author

Anne Branigin

Staff writer, The Root. Sometimes I blog slow, sometimes I blog quick. Do you have this in coconut?