COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The family of De’Von Bailey, a Black man who was shot and killed by two Colorado Springs police officers in 2019 as he ran from them, has reached a settlement with the city nearly two years after a federal lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court of Colorado over his death.
The City of Colorado Springs will not only pay nearly $3 million to his estate as part of the settlement, but has committed to making significant changes to the police department’s policies and training, including:
- 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.
- 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.
- Actively maintain an early intervention program to mitigate the potential for escalating employee issues, identify personnel who may require assistance or training to perform their duties and to preemptively intervene and improve performance, with a focus on officers who have recent use of force, internal affairs investigation, pursuit, and/or vehicular collision history that merits review. The program shall remain active with information reviewed for action on a weekly basis.
- The Colorado Springs Police Department will participate in the United Way Give Campaign in 2021 so long as the City of Colorado Springs participates, as it has in the past, in the program;
- On an annual basis, for no less than two years, provide communication regarding the Good Neighbor Next Door Program available through the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
- Ensure that all officers’ personnel files are retained for the duration of the employee’s career, including but not limited to all personnel investigative files, Supervisory Discussion Reports, findings of misconduct, all internal affairs (or other) investigations, and all CSPD administrative reviews, and all use of force internal affairs reviews.
“Nothing in this nightmare could ever make what happened to my son ok or justifiable,” said Greg Bailey, De’von’s father, in a statement. “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.”
Delisha Searcy, De’Von’s mother, said in a statement: “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.”
Bailey was shot and killed by the two officers on August 3 of 2019. He and another man were accosted by the officers, who were investigating a report of an armed robbery in the area which the lawsuit says turned out later to be a false report.
Body camera video showed one officer approaching Bailey to search him after he and the other man put their hands up when confronted. At that point in time, Bailey took off running. Seconds later, just after the officer yelled at him to put his hands up and without further warning, both officers fired at Bailey, hitting him three times in the lower back and once in the arm.
He died after being taken to a nearby hospital. Officers did recover a weapon from inside Bailey’s shorts, but it had to be cut out of them in order to be retrieved.
The shooting caused outrage in Colorado Springs as Bailey was running from police with his back turned when he was shot.
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers provided the following statement, explaining why a settlement was reached despite the fact that “the El Paso County Grand Jury, the FBI And Department of Justice, unanimously agreed that the officers acted in self-defense and wholly in conformance with the law.” The full statement is below:
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. 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. Pursuant to the terms of the insurance contract, the excess carrier took the position that if the City did not agree to settle the matter for $2.975M, any verdict above that amount would be the liability of the tax payers or the police officers themselves. Under these circumstances, despite the fact that the El Paso County Grand Jury, the FBI And Department of Justice, unanimously agreed that the officers acted in self-defense and wholly in conformance with the law, it was deemed prudent to allow the insurance company to dictate settlement of the case.
It is important to note that in the conduct of the civil case, neither the judge who mediated a possible settlement, nor the insurance adjusters assigned to the case suggested at any time that the officers acted unlawfully or contrary to department policy. Rather, the insurance carrier cited the ‘anti-law enforcement climate around the country,’ and much larger settlements in other cases in support of its desire to settle this case.
As Mayor, my commitment to our police officers and to the public is that when a police officer violates the law or department policy, they will be held appropriately accountable, but that when they act in accordance with the law and department policy, as the officers did in this case, the city will stand behind them, regardless of how loud the few voices demanding otherwise. Given the position of the excess insurance carrier in this matter, standing behind our officers dictated that the City agree to the settlement.
"Our country has finally reached a moment of reckoning, acknowledging that racist police brutality cannot stand," said family attorney Mari Newman. "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.”