No criminal charges will be filed against two Colorado Springs, Colorado, officers involved in the fatal shooting of an African-American teen.
This week, a grand jury ruled officers were justified in using deadly force against 19-year-old De’Von Bailey as he fled police earlier this year, District Attorney Dan May announced Wednesday.
Bailey was shot three times in the back and once in the arm during the Aug. 3 incident and later died at the hospital. His death sparked days of protests across the city with his family members demanding an independent review of the shooting, KRDO reports.
Mari Newman, an attorney for the family, said the ruling was “like a kick in the gut,” but not totally unsurprising.
“This is the exact result [that] the system was designed to yield when a tainted investigation is presented by a biased prosecutor,” Newman said after Wednesday’s announcement. “This is precisely why we have been calling for an independent prosecutor and an independent investigation from the beginning.”
Officers were investigating a report of a robbery that had happened nearby when things went awry. Bodycam footage of the incident shows police stop and question Bailey and another young man about the alleged crime, telling them to keep their hands in the air so another officer could search them for weapons.
Just as he was about to be searched, Bailey took off running. Police ordered him to stop, but then opened fire after they said the 19-year-old reached for something in his waistband.
Video shows Bailey stumbling to the ground as officers swarm him, placing him in handcuffs. One cop seen kneeling at Bailey’s side pulls at something in his shorts that appears to be revealed as a gun.
The victim’s family was “devastated” upon seeing the footage and called the shooting “wholly unjustified” and excessive.
“He did not have a weapon in his hand and had not shown any weapon when he was shot in the back and killed,” said Darold Killmer, another lawyer for the victim’s family, “The police appear to argue that they shot Mr. Bailey because they feared he was going for a gun. We think the video shows otherwise.”
KRDO noted that while the clip video doesn’t show Bailey ever point the gun at officers, police are allowed to use deadly force if they know or suspect a fleeing suspect has a deadly weapon.
Colorado Springs Police Chief Vince Niski addressed the grand jury’s decision in an open letter to the community this week, saying the shooting “was something neither police officers nor citizens ever want to experience.”
“The loss of a son, a friend, a community member, is a devastating event that impacts all of us,” he added.
Newman said she plans to pursue additional legal action on behalf of Bailey’s family.
“The criminal justice system, as we see time and time again, is skewed in favor of police,” she said.