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Colorado lawmakers introducing bill to reform police use of deadly force

bailey and stoker widescreen Cropped
De'Von Bailey and Lawrence Stoker

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.

Andrew McMillan

Andrew is the Digital Content Director for KRDO.com. Learn more about Andrew here.

Comments

24 Comments

  1. Just what we need. A bill telling cops how to do their jobs written by people who have zero experience in law enforcement.

    1. Clearly the police are not doing their jobs properly or this would not be needed. Law enforcement is bringing this on themselves.

      1. I didn’t say anything about whether or not it was needed. I simply pointed out it was written by legislators who know nothing about the subject matter.

      2. It isn’t needed because they are doing their jobs properly. Just because a bunch of clown got upset because someone who reached for his gun got shot, does not mean the police are doing their jobs improperly.

      3. 99.9% of the police ARE doing their jobs well, but the media only wants to report on the 0.1% that are causing problems. Reporting on the good cops doesn’t drive their narrative.

  2. I have warned of this in the past. Now the time is here. Our soldiers in combat zones have more restrictive ROE than those we trust to safeguard our citizens.

    1. Not true. Collateral damage and victims are acceptable in military actions, but not in police work.

  3. Good news. Add to it that the Springs PD cannot gas people just to do it. They are out of control.

    1. Thugs are out of control.
      Criminals are out of control.
      ANTIFA is out of control.
      Liberal want control of everyone.

      1. Cops are out of control
        Criminals are in the White House
        Confederates are out of control
        Conservatives want a state religion to control everyone

  4. Now we have to have training and guidelines for the criminals to follow.
    The bad guys are just that, THE BAD GUYS. They have no rules to follow. Easier to write off a dead cop then to actually see what criminals are doing.

    1. Using videos we can actually see what everyone was doing in the Derek Chauvin case and guess who was the criminal? The cop. Having a badge does not give you the right to kill someone just because you feel like it.

  5. Well here we go again, two legislators who obviously are clueless. What they are proposing has been around since 1985 in a Supreme Court case called Tennessee v Garner. Yes even under current case law and the proposed identical bill, the officers in the Bailey shooting would have been acquitted, and justifiably so, of any charges. This is what you get when legislators who have zero background in law enforcement or are totally clueless about current case law try to act like adults.

  6. No this is an OK idea, this will remove the possibility of a bystander getting hurt while the police chase after a perp. remember austin bluffs bout mid year in 2019…the truck that spun out of control while the police chased it and hit several other people in that intersection?

    1. That was already a violation of the law and Sheriff’s Office policy, and the deputy who did it had never gone through any field training. But… he was Sheriff’s Elder’s buddy, and the husband of Sheriff Elder’s campaign manager, so he got protection from Corrupt Sheriff Elder and no discipline.

  7. We now need to enforce it. While the majority of police officers are probably good people there is the percentage of them that are just nasty thugs. Derek Chauvin was nothing but a thug. If a person is lying on their stomach with their hands cuffed behind their back and three other cops are standing over him why kneel on his neck? He cannot get up from that position. Chauvin intended to murder him and thought his badge gave him the authority to do it. I sincerely hope he goes to prison and serves the maximum amount of time in the general population- cops are really popular in prison.
    Police need to wear body cameras at all times and they must be turned on. This protects the officer from untrue allegations and the suspect from untrue accusations.
    A badge does not give you the right to become a criminal.

  8. (b) NEITHER QUALIFIED IMMUNITY, NOR A DEFENDANT’S GOOD FAITH BUT ERRONEOUS BELIEF IN THE LAWFULNESS OF HIS OR HER CONDUCT, IS A DEFENSE TO LIABILITY PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION.

    Oh, nice. So a cop does something that he reasonably believes is legal, but now he can be sued anyhow?

    Stand by for the dumbest cops in the history of this country, because anyone with any brains will never apply to be a cop anymore.

  9. Will apply? Some are there now. Gassing innocent people to clear the streets at curfew. That’s why laws need to be passed to stop citizens from being abused by their own police department. The CSPD chief has no care for the citizens of that city. If he did people outside not rioting would bot be gassed.

  10. What the politicians really want is for the police to use pillows and tough talk.

  11. In 1989, the United States Supreme Court in Graham v. Connor held that an officer’s use of force must be objectively reasonable under the totality of circumstances known to the officer at the time. Force “must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight,” the court said.

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