Militant Journalism

Shot in the back: Colorado Springs police kill De’Von Bailey, community fights cover-up

On Aug. 3, 19-year-old De’Von Malik Bailey was shot in the back as he fled from two Colorado Springs police officers. Bailey was taken to a local hospital where police say he died that night.

As the community organizes to demand justice for De’Von, suspicions of a police cover-up are rising.

The night of the shooting, police were dispatched in response to a robbery in southeast Colorado Springs. Officers stopped two young Black men, De’Von Bailey and Lawrence Stoker, who were walking a half mile away from the site of the robbery that was reported just a few minutes earlier. Colorado Springs police claim that De’Von Bailey then reached for a weapon in his waistband and that one shot was fired. But surveillance footage of the encounter, as well as eyewitness testimony, tells a different story.

In the surveillance video, two white officers can be seen chasing Bailey, guns drawn and pointed at his back. Bailey falls to the ground, injured. His hands are empty. The officers approach Bailey, roll him onto his stomach, and handcuff him. Thirty seconds later, a third officer arrives on the scene and drops something on the ground. A few minutes later a fire truck arrives, blocking the scene from view.

The shooting was also witnessed by multiple bystanders, who can be seen in the surveillance footage. Eyewitnesses say they heard up to seven shots fired, claims which the police have refused to comment on.

Elizabeth Powell told KKTV 11, “As I was walking up the street, the first squad car that we saw had pulled up on two young Black male individuals, and they were questioning them. The next thing I know, the male in the black shirt turned around and he just started running. He didn’t have anything in his hands; he did not brandish any type of weapon. The police officer did not try and chase him, did not try and tase him. He took out his gun and he shot him.”

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers issued a statement urging the community to be patient, warning that “we cannot compromise the investigation by failing to spend the appropriate time gathering the facts.”

Both officers were wearing body cameras. Initially, CSPD spokesman Lt. Jim Sokolik told the Denver Post that there was no plan to release either the body cam footage or the names of the two officers involved.

Community responds

Police suppression of video evidence is commonplace. But De’Von Bailey’s community refuses to let his death be swept under the rug.

On Aug. 5, around 60 protesters marched from Colorado Springs City Hall to the Police Operations Center, calling for accountability and chanting “Justice for De’Von Bailey!” Days later, the city and police said in a joint statement that the footage will be released soon.

The Monday protest was dispersed following an attack by two white supremacists, who approached on motorcycles wearing bulletproof vests and carrying loaded guns. The men, Dustin and Justin Brooks, are bounty hunters by profession. Police on the scene “arrested” the vigilante brothers for disorderly conduct and then released them within hours of the incident.

The treatment of Justin and Dustin Bailey reveals the racist double standard that guides the conduct of Colorado Springs police. A Black teenager is executed in the street while running away from officers, while two white supremacists who threaten a peaceful protest with loaded weapons are quietly escorted away and given a slap on the wrist.

Colorado Springs is a city notorious for its far right-wing, anti-worker policies. El Paso County police have killed five people in 2019 alone, and not a single officer has been fired or held accountable for their actions. Racist vigilantes like the Brooks brothers pose a very real threat to communities of color in the area.

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Department and city leaders in Colorado Springs are doing everything within their power to shift blame away from the officers who gunned down De’Von Bailey. Local news outlets have begun a racist smear campaign, attempting to paint Bailey as a criminal, all the while the mayor’s calls for patience ring hollow.

The PSL stands firmly with the family and community demanding justice for De’Von Bailey. We will not be patient as the death toll by killer cops in Colorado Springs rises. No justice, no peace! No racist police!


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