COLORADO SPRINGS — The City of Colorado Springs agreed to settle the lawsuit brought by the family of De'Von Bailey for $2.975 million after police shot and killed the 19-year-old in August of 2019.
The lawsuit was brought in June of 2020 by the civil rights firm Killmer, Lane & Newman.
The shooting happened on August 3, 2019, when two officers from the Colorado Springs Police Department were following up on a report of a robbery with a weapon when they stopped Bailey and his cousin for questioning near Adams Park.
The incident was caught on body camera and shows De'Von Bailey fleeing from officers after they told him they were going to search for any weapons on his person. The officer then began to chase him, telling him to put his hands up, before quickly firing at Bailey, who had his back turned to the officer when he opened fire.
Bailey was hit several times in the back and chest, and died at the scene.
A grand jury report, released in November of 2019, decided not to indict the officers involved, Sgt. Alan Van't Land and Officer Blake Evenson, on any charges in the shooting. The grand jury ruled the officers were justified in the shooting under Colorado's "fleeing felon" law, as well as public safety concerns.
In March of 2020, the U.S. Attorney's Office for Colorado further decided they would not pursue federal charges against the officers involved, as the shooting "did not result from any willful violation of Mr. Bailey's constitutional rights."
In response to the settlement, the Colorado Springs Department released a statement, saying, "under the law and based on the officers’ extensive training, they acted justifiably to protect both themselves and the community. We strongly stand behind our officers and their actions. We want to state unequivocally that this settlement is not, in any way, an admission or indication of wrongdoing by these officers."
The statement released today went on to say that the decision to settle was made to mitigate the financial risk to the City and taxpayers.
In addition to the money, the settlement includes the following:
- Provide training for every officer who has not already received training regarding the new use of force policies and other police practices set forth in SB 2020-217 and HB 2021-1250;
- Provide annual anti-bias training, for no less than two years, that specifically addresses the understanding that race should have no role in officers’ perceptions of risk;
- Actively maintain an early intervention program to mitigate the potential for escalating employee issues, identify personnel who may require assistance or training to perform their duties and to preemptively intervene and improve performance, with a focus on officers who have recent use of force, internal affairs investigation, pursuit, and/or vehicular collision history that merits review. The program shall remain active with information reviewed for action on a weekly basis.
- The Colorado Springs Police Department will participate in the United Way Give Campaign in 2021 so long as the City of Colorado Springs participates, as it has in the past, in the program;
- On an annual basis, for no less than two years, provide communication regarding the Good Neighbor Next Door Program available through the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development;
- Ensure that all officers’ personnel files are retained for the duration of the employee’s career, including but not limited to all personnel investigative files, Supervisory Discussion Reports, findings of misconduct, all internal affairs (or other) investigations, and all CSPD administrative reviews, and all use of force internal affairs reviews.
However, the policies and training were already in place prior to the settlement.
Bailey's mother responded to the news of the settlement saying, “My heart is broken at the loss of my son, but I am hopeful that the changes in the Colorado Springs Police Department will prevent another family from losing a child.”
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers released the following statement regarding the settlement:
The settlement of the civil case was dictated by the desire of the city’s excess insurance carrier to resolve the matter and eliminate any risk of a jury trial in Denver.
The City of Colorado Springs is self-insured up to $1M in liability for any incident.
The City has excess insurance coverage for any liability in excess of $1M.
The estimated cost of trying the case through appeal is $1M, so the City would be responsible for that amount whether the case was tried or settled.
Pursuant to the terms of the insurance contract, the excess carrier took the position that if the City did not agree to settle the matter for $2.975M, any verdict above that amount would be the liability of the tax payers or the police officers themselves.
Under these circumstances, despite the fact that the El Paso County Grand Jury, the FBI And Department of Justice, unanimously agreed that the officers acted in self-defense and wholly in conformance with the law, it was deemed prudent to allow the insurance company to dictate settlement of the case.
It is important to note that in the conduct of the civil case, neither the judge who mediated a possible settlement, nor the insurance adjusters assigned to the case suggested at any time that the officers acted unlawfully or contrary to department policy.
Rather, the insurance carrier cited the ‘anti-law enforcement climate around the country,’ and much larger settlements in other cases in support of its desire to settle this case.
As Mayor, my commitment to our police officers and to the public is that when a police officer violates the law or department policy, they will be held appropriately accountable, but that when they act in accordance with the law and department policy, as the officers did in this case, the city will stand behind them, regardless of how loud the few voices demanding otherwise.
Given the position of the excess insurance carrier in this matter, standing behind our officers dictated that the City agree to the settlement.
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