The family of De’Von Bailey, the teen fatally shot in the back by police in August as he ran from officers who’d tried to pat him down, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Thursday against the city of Colorado Springs and two of its police officers.
The lawsuit, which names Sgt. Alan Van’t Land and Officer Blake Evenson as defendants, alleges police violated Bailey’s constitutional rights by using excessive force and engaging in racially biased policing.
The city of Colorado Springs did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
“This senseless killing of a young black man is tragic,” Darold Killmer, an attorney representing Bailey’s family, said in a statement. “The police were not threatened by De’Von. He was running for his life, desperate to get away. Knowing they probably would not catch him, they shot him in the back instead, killing him. Our Constitution prohibits using deadly force just to apprehend someone, even if you suspect them of a crime.”
Police were responding to a 911 call on Aug. 3 from a man who said someone matching Bailey’s description had robbed him at gunpoint. The two Colorado Springs police officers who killed Bailey did not see a gun before they shot Bailey, 19, as he ran away, interview transcripts released in December revealed.
After the shooting, police did find a handgun in Bailey’s shorts, which he had been trying to hold up as he ran.
Colorado law allows police officers to shoot fleeing suspects who are suspected of violence if officers “reasonably believe that it is necessary” to defend themselves or others from imminent serious harm. The law also allows officers to shoot people suspected of committing felonies involving the use of a deadly weapon if it is necessary to prevent them from escaping custody.
In November, a grand jury unanimously determined Colorado Springs police officers were justified when shooting and killing Bailey.
The federal lawsuit is filed as thousands of Coloradans have taken to the streets in protest to decry the death of George Floyd, who died May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Protests last week and stretching into the weekend were met with police using tear gas and other “less-lethal” weapons to deter and disperse the crowds, but a massive gathering in front of the Colorado Capitol on Wednesday stayed peaceful as police kept their distance.
“The police stole my son, killed him in broad daylight,” said Delisha Searcy, Bailey’s mother, in a statement. “He was only trying to run away. The police think they can get away with murder, and they have so far. Our family will fight for justice for De’Von. But I will never get my son back. The police can’t be above the law.”
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