On Aug. 3, two Colorado Springs police officers shot 19-year-old De’Von Bailey multiple times in the back while he attempted to flee from them after being stopped on suspicion of personal robbery. After Bailey made the decision to run, the police decided to try and stop him from running by shooting at him, which is unconstitutional. In total, they fired eight bullets at the teenager’s back, hitting him four times and killing him.
Thirteen days later on Aug. 16, Bailey’s funeral took place. That same day as the funeral the Colorado Springs Police Department gloated that the two cops who killed Bailey were back on the streets.
After first refusing, the department eventually released body camera footage, which not only contradict how law enforcement authorities had described the shooting, but confirmed what other video from a nearby surveillance camera had already shown: De’Von Bailey was running away in a full sprint, posing no risk to officers or anyone else, when Sgt. Alan Van’t Land and Officer Blake Evenson opened fire.
Putting these killer cops back on the streets on the very day of De’Von’s funeral was intended to send an unmistakable message to Colorado Springs’ Black community: CSPD’s top brass sees the killing of De’von Bailey as a job well done.
The body camera footage begins moments after officers stop and question De’Von and his cousin Lawrence Stoker about a reported robbery in the vicinity. Bailey and Stoker were told to put their hands up and that they would be searched for weapons, a search they never consented to. Bailey and Stoker raised their hands in the air. As officer Evenson walked up behind Bailey, Bailey broke into a full sprint. He made it about eight strides before the two officers fired at him. Bailey immediately fell to the ground, immobile and bleeding. The cops caught up to him and handcuffed him on the ground, only then noticing an object buried deep inside his basketball shorts, which officer Van’t Land later stated is a gun. The object was so inaccessible that it had to be cut out of Bailey’s shorts with a knife to retrieve it.
The video shows De’Von Bailey never grabbed a gun, never brandished a gun, never pointed a gun, but did attempt to run as fast as he could away from the police, something that CSPD considers punishable by death if you are young and Black.
In a statement following the release of the video, De’Von Bailey’s family said they were “devastated at having seen this evidence of the wholly unjustified killing of their beloved family member.” They are calling for an independent investigation into their son’s death.
Speaking to Liberation News at a community action demanding justice, De’Von’s neighbor Bri O’Donnell said, “I think everything going on right now is a testament to how our country is running. I think that we have a mass shooting by a white person carrying a gun and he’s taken in peacefully,” referring to the recent El Paso shooting, “and someone who’s running away with their hands in the air gets shot in the back, and the only difference that I can see is that he’s Black.”
Local Pastor Terry Thomas spoke out after Bailey’s funeral service: “In my humble opinion, the Black and Brown citizens of Colorado Springs are not safe with these officers on the street.”
Indeed, this is not the first time that Sgt. Van’t Land has been caught brutalizing citizens. The city of Colorado Springs was forced to pay $50,000 to settle a brutality lawsuit against Douglas Sellier.
According to the lawsuit, after 51-year-old Sellier refused to let police take his grandson away, Sgt. Van’t Land repeatedly tased Sellier and piled onto him along with three other officers, forcing Sellier to urinate and defecate and have difficulty breathing. The lawsuit further stated that at the hospital officers laughed at Sellier when he asked to clean up. Sellier was “so humiliated that after receiving a ticket … he left the hospital without being treated.” Sellier was unable to sleep for days afterward and suffered a knee injury and severe pain.
The killing of De’Von Bailey demonstrates that like police departments across the country, CSPD is an organization that inflicts terror on Black community members and then wears it as a badge of honor.
But the community will not be intimidated into silence. There have already been multiple actions demanding justice for De’Von Bailey and his family, and more are to come! Ultimately, justice cannot be served until killer cops are taken off the streets and thrown in jail where they belong.