De'Von Bailey Family Attorneys File Lawsuit Alleging Wrongful Death in Police Shooting

By Benzel, Lance | The Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO), June 4, 2020 | Go to article overview

De'Von Bailey Family Attorneys File Lawsuit Alleging Wrongful Death in Police Shooting


Benzel, Lance, The Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO)


Attorneys for the estate of De'Von Bailey, a 19-year-old black man shot four times in the back last summer while fleeing Colorado Springs police, sued in federal court Thursday alleging wrongful death and civil rights violations.

The suit names the city of Colorado Springs and police Sgt. Alan Van't Land and Officer Blake Evenson, who opened fire on Aug. 3, 2019, killing Bailey and igniting repeated protests.

"It basically starts the process toward getting justice for De'Von and putting some parameters in place so hopefully this doesn’t happen to anyone else," said Bailey's mother, Delisha Searcy of Decatur, Ga.

Searcy and Bailey's father, Greg Bailey, are listed in the suit as representatives of Bailey's estate, along with De'Von Bailey's 6-month-old daughter, named by her initials, R.B.

The 31-page complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Denver, also alleges denial of equal protection and excessive force, saying that police engaged in racially biased policing. The suit also comes amid a national uproar over police violence against blacks after the death of a black man in police custody in Minneapolis.

Jamie Fabos, a spokeswoman for Mayor John Suthers, declined to comment, citing a city policy against discussing pending litigation. Colorado Springs police also declined to comment.

Danny Kay, one of the attorneys representing the Bailey family, said the legal team spent months seeking additional circumstances behind Bailey's death, accounting for the delay in filing suit.

Bailey's family attorneys were also waiting on an investigation by the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado into allegations of racially biased policing by the Colorado Springs Police Department.

That probe highlighted at least a half-dozen instances of racial bias against minority residents in recent years, some resulting in large legal settlements, as well as statistical data showing disproportionate numbers of arrests and traffic tickets against minorities, the ACLU of Colorado said.

The civil liberties group levied the accusations as part of a lawsuit last month in which the ACLU said three police officers conducted an unlawful search after racially profiling Cory Barnes, a 28-year-old black man, in May 2018.

That search was part of what the group called the "custom and practice" of racially biased policing in the city.

Kay said the ACLU's findings have been incorporated into the Bailey family's lawsuit, and are an "additional factor" for a federal jury to consider.

The deadly shooting came after Bailey and his cousin, Lawrence Stoker, had been detained in southeast Colorado Springs on suspicion of an armed robbery that allegedly occurred a block away minutes earlier.

Bailey took off running before officers were able to search him, and police body camera footage showed the moments the officers opened fire after ordering him to put up his hands.

"Mr. Bailey did not threaten any police officer or citizen in any way prior to Sergeant Van’t Land and Officer Evenson’s decision to shoot him. He simply ran away, fast," the complaint alleges.

In public statements after the shooting, police said they feared he was reaching for a weapon at the time. …

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