NewsCovering Colorado


City Leaders: Let the process of the officer-involved shooting play out

Civilian oversight or different counties; alternative ways to investigate shooting
Posted at 11:09 PM, Aug 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-14 17:00:28-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — The family and attorneys of De'Von Bailey are asking for an independent investigation into the officer-involved shooting that happened on August 3. The push for more information had News 5 look into how other places investigate officer-involved shootings.

This kind of situation is exactly why Denver's mayor and city council established the Office of the Independent Monitor. It was launched in 2005, and it's a civilian oversight agency for their police and sheriff departments. It has fourteen employees and six monitors, which are mainly attorneys. They said they are charged with making sure there is accountability, effectiveness, and transparency within the Denver police and sheriff departments.

Many protesters and the family of De'Von Bailey want to see more checks and balances on law enforcement, but the Mayor of Colorado Springs has a number of problems with the idea of a civilian oversight agency. Mayor John Suthers said the issues with the idea include potentially delaying the process, lacking expertise, becoming politicized, and can be inconsistent when looked at across the country. "Look at those that have independent citizen's commissions, for the most part, they're the police departments that aren't very well respected in the law enforcement community," said Mayor Suthers.

Meanwhile, the President of the Colorado Springs City Council Richard Skorman, said he would like to see an independent investigation to assure the public that there's another pair of eyes on it. He also suggested potentially moving investigations to different counties in the future. "Maybe the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, or maybe the Justice Department of the Federal Government, but some other entity that can just have a double check on it," said Skorman.

However, Mayor John Suthers said there is no conflict of interest between the agencies, and the sheriff and district attorney of Colorado Springs should be allowed to do the jobs they were elected to do. "My personal feeling is between the dispatch tapes and the body camera tapes, that what transpired here is going to be pretty clear to everybody," said Mayor Suthers. Mayor Suthers said he has seen some of the body camera footage.

Both Mayor Suthers and City Council President Skorman said they do trust the current system of investigating officer-involved shootings, and there are no plans to change it.

News 5 also spoke with State Representative Tony Exum who said he is open to looking at other models, but typically a change like that starts with a grassroots organization bringing an issue to the legislature which could then decide if they want to pursue a different kind of oversight legislation.