DENVER (KRDO) -- In response to statewide protests against the police killing of George Floyd -- and with the recent memory of the De'Von Bailey shooting in Colorado Springs -- lawmakers are introducing a bill Wednesday that contains new reforms for police departments, including limiting when officers are allowed to use deadly force.
Colorado Senate President Leroy Garcia and House Rep. Leslie Herod are introducing the bill Wednesday with the goals of creating a special investigatory unit, limiting unannounced warrant service, and preventing officers from using deadly force on fleeing suspects. (Read the bill here)
The first section of the bill introduces a "special investigations unit" under the state Attorney General's Office that will determine if officers acted appropriately following deaths or serious bodily injury involving police, "either through their own conduct or failure to intervene."
If an officer is found to have violated "the applicable criminal legal standard, the peace officer's employing agency shall immediately suspend the peace officer without pay until the conclusion of any further proceedings," according to the draft bill text.
The bill also applies a statewide standard that requires all law enforcement agencies to issue body-warn cameras, and departments are required to release all recordings of an incident to the public within seven days of the incident. Failure to do so will result in a fine of no more than $10,000 per incident for the agency.
Amid new requirements for reporting data, officers will also be limited on unannounced entry into homes to serve an arrest warrant, and police will have more limitations on deadly force.
The bill would amend the current deadly force standards by removing the ability for law enforcement to shoot fleeing suspects just because they've committed a felony or because officers believe they have a weapon.
According to the bill, officers can only use deadly force in an arrest or escape attempt to defend themselves from what is reasonably believed to be the use or imminent use of deadly force; or if the suspect is:
- Attempting to escape by the use, not simply the possession, of a deadly weapon; or
- he or she imminently is likely to endanger human life or inflict serious bodily injury to another unless apprehended without delay
Under those standards, it's not clear if the officers involved in the shooting of De'Von Bailey would have been ruled justified. The 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office gave the case to a grand jury for review, and the officers were ruled justified under current standards. Bailey was stopped by officers on Aug. 3 after a reported armed robbery -- that robbery was later determined to be a false report -- and when Bailey was about to be searched, he ran away from officers and was shot while moving his hands to the front of his waistband. Officers found a handgun inside his shorts, and he died soon after from the gunshot wounds.
In addition to those regulations, the bill would also allow for individual officers to be named as defendants in civil lawsuits without protection from the local jurisdiction.
“This isn’t only about what’s going on in other states,” says Senate
President Leroy Garcia. “This is about what’s happening in our own backyards. We shouldn’t need body cams to catch the lack of law enforcement integrity. If we sit idly by and do nothing to address police brutality, the profession’s reputation will continue to erode and that’s not good for anyone.”
Steve Schulz, the president of the Colorado Fraternal Order of Police, gave a statement to our ABC affiliate in Denver saying: "We are fully committed to supporting policies that protect the communities we serve and continuing these conversations in a thoughtful and meaningful way now and even after this session. We have been doing outreach to be involved in these important efforts for several days and received the bill draft this morning. We are working diligently to try to sort through the very extensive policies proposed to find a path forward."
The bill has been assigned to the Senate State Affairs and will be scheduled for a first hearing.