In the wake of recent police shootings, some in Colorado Springs are calling on the government to assemble a seven-member independent State Civilian Review Department.
The idea is that this department would not be connected to any other government agency, and would be comprised of appointed civilians to increase transparency.
KRDO crews spoke with organizers at a fundraiser for the family of De’Von Bailey — the 19-year-old fatally shot by Colorado Springs police in early August — on Sunday about their push for a third party investigation.
Dr. James Tucker, one man attending the fundraiser, wrote a letter and sent it to Governor Jared Polis and other local politicians stating this specific proposition.
Tucker says the department would “address the issues of injustices in the state of Colorado.”
We asked Tucker how he felt about the FBI investigating the case, to which he replied: “The FBI [investigating] is good. The key thing is, you don’t know who’s who.”
We reached out to government officials ourselves to see what they think of a civilian review department.
State Representative Tony Exum said in a statement: “I continue to support the Bailey family’s call for an independent investigation, and would support the creation of a local civilian review commission.”
We also spoke with Senator Pete Lee, who said in part: “I support the concept of a local civilian review board… It promotes transparency and accessibility of government.”
However, Senator Lee says this concept is in the authority of the mayor. For example, Denver has a similar board.
We contacted Mayor Suthers about the idea, and were told to reference his original statement made about the De’Von Bailey case:
“I personally believe Colorado Springs residents would be best served by an independent review of the events surrounding De’Von Bailey’s death. An independent review would ensure the public’s confidence in the results, and maintain trust in law enforcement going forward. I encourage the El Paso County district attorney’s office to consider turning the investigation’s findings over to another local jurisdiction for independent review, and if warranted, additional information gathering.”
Bailey was shot and killed by police while they were responding to calls about an armed robbery on Pruess Road in southeast Colorado Springs on Aug. 3. Body camera footage released by Colorado Springs Police shows two police officers confront Bailey. As an officer attempts to search Bailey, he makes a run for it while holding something in his pants. You can hear one officer yell “hands up” before shots were fired at Bailey. After Bailey was brought to the ground and handcuffed, officers found what they identified as a gun between his legs.
Colorado law says police are justified to use deadly force on a person if he or she, “has committed or attempted to commit a felony involving the use or threatened use of a deadly weapon,” and/or if it’s “to effect an arrest or to prevent the escape from custody of an arrested person.”
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office turned over their investigation of the Bailey shooting to District Attorney Dan May, who will decide if the two officers will face charges. The two officers have since returned to duty.
At Sunday’s fundraiser, organizers told us why they believe the shooting was unjust.
“It’s problematic. When we think about: was he a prior criminal? Was he an ex-convict? If we believe that, then there’s a lot of people that are allowed to just be shot in the back just because they’re a bad guy,” said Shaun Walls.
Bailey had an open case against him for alleged sexual assault of a child by someone in a position of trust, and was free on bond at the time of the shooting.
“He wasn’t convicted of anything. He was accused of horrible things that we don’t know were true or not and we’ll never get to that because the police killed him,” Walls continued.
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