A settlement has been reached in a civil lawsuit against the City of Colorado Springs for a fatal police shooting in 2019.
On Tuesday the city agreed to pay $2.975 million to settle the lawsuit filed by the family of De’Von Bailey, a 19-year-old Black man who was shot by two police officers, three times in the back, as he was running away from them.
In November of 2019 a grand jury cleared Sgt. Alan Van’t Land and Officer Blake Evenson, finding that their actions were “objectively reasonable” and consistent with their use of force training and Colorado law in the shooting.
On Aug. 3, 2019, Bailey and his cousin, Lawrence Stoker, were approached by the officers who were trying to find two people reported to be involved in an armed robbery. Stoker was acquitted by a jury of the only criminal charge connected to the alleged robbery.
Bailey’s death prompted protests across the state, while the family and some elected officials, including Gov. Jared Polis, called for an independent investigation into the shooting.
On Tuesday Mayor John Suthers and the police department released a joint statement on the settlement.
“The settlement of the civil case was dictated by the desire of the city’s excess insurance carrier to resolve the matter and eliminate any risk of a jury trial in Denver,” Suthers said in the statement. “The City of Colorado Springs is self-insured up to $1M in liability for any incident. The City has excess insurance coverage for any liability in excess of $1M. The estimated cost of trying the case through appeal is $1M, so the City would be responsible for that amount whether the case was tried or settled.”
Both Suthers and the department, in the statement, noted that the officers in the lawsuit acted in accordance with the law and department policy. Police said Bailey was reaching for a firearm in the waistband of his shorts when he was shot.
“Nobody loses sight that everyone involved are real people,” the police department said in the statement. “These are real lives that have been forever changed.”
The seven-paragraph jointly-released statement, posted online, failed to use De’Von Bailey’s full name. Bailey is mentioned in the headline and in a line above the headline, but De’Von is not used anywhere in the text of the statement.
Mari Newman, an attorney representing the Bailey family in the civil rights and excessive force lawsuit filed in federal court on June 4, 2020, said the settlement includes “significant policy and training changes.”
Changes, according to Newman, include:
- The department will provide training for every officer who has not already received training regarding the new use of force policies and other police practices set forth in SB 2020-217 and HB 2021-1250.
- Police will provide annual anti-bias training, for no less than two years, that specifically addresses the understanding that race should have no role in officers’ perceptions of risk.
Bailey’s parents, Delisha Searcy and Greg Bailey, voiced statements as part of Newman’s news release.
“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,” Searcy said.
“Nothing in this nightmare could ever make what happened to my son ok or justifiable. There is no amount of money that will bring him back. He was running away, and they shot him in the back like an animal. I miss De’Von every day,” Greg Bailey said.
Newman describes the shooting death as “racist police brutality.”
“Our country has finally reached a moment of reckoning, acknowledging that racist police brutality cannot stand,” she said in a statement. “This settlement represents an important step toward both assigning some measure of accountability for police shooting a young Black man in the back, and requiring critical changes in police policies and training to put an end to racist police brutality.”
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