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Gov. Polis expresses support for independent investigation into Bailey shooting

Posted at 12:37 PM, Aug 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-14 13:00:51-05

DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis released a statement Thursday expressing his support for an independent investigation into the officer-involved shooting that killed 19-year-old De'Von Bailey.

Polis said he "hopes El Paso County takes steps above those legally required to additionally maximize public trust in the investigation" into the fatal officer-involved shooting from Colorado Springs police officers earlier this month. Citing "difficult challenges concerning race and how we treat one another," Polis said people living in Colorado Springs deserve an independent investigation.

Attorneys representing De'Von Bailey's family have repeatedly called for an independent investigation into the shooting. They expressed concerns that the sheriff's office would not be able to investigate the shooting in an unbiased manner. The El Paso County Sheriff's Office declined to comment about those claims and said they were following Colorado law by investigating the shooting.

Polis' statement was released just hours before attorneys hold a news conference to ask CSPD to release the unedited body camera video and to repeat their demands for the independent investigation. Lawyer Darold Killmer said in his statement that Colorado Springs police "promoted its own narrative by splicing together parts of 9-1-1 and dispatch tapes, a video manipulated to mislead the viewer, and an incomplete statement of the law."

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers responded with a statement of his own, saying "the governor cites no legal or ethical basis" that should lead the District Attorney to recuse himself from the case. "I'm concerned that he suggests a precedence with impacts he has not yet considered and does not understand, to include undermining the will of the people, who elected the public officials charged with carrying out legal responsibilities," the statement continues.

Colorado Springs police released the video of the shooting last Thursday. It showed a 911 call from a person reporting they were robbed. It then cut to the video that showed Bailey running from two white police officers. They chased Bailey, who is black, before opening fire while he had his back to the officers. Police said Bailey was reaching for his waistband at the time of the shooting. According to police, officers recovered a pistol from Bailey's clothing as they cut away his pants, which is seen in the video.

The video blurred nudity as officers cut away his shorts, and the audio did not bleep curse words or other statements from officers at the scene.

Darold Killmer, the attorney representing the Bailey family, said last week that it was not obvious Bailey was reaching for a weapon. Therefore, he argues the shooting was not justified.

The El Paso County Sheriff's Office said it finished its investigation last Thursday and it sent its results to the 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office to determine if charges should be filed. The District Attorney's Office says the review with take several months.

Polis' full statement is below:

"Our nation is grappling with difficult challenges concerning race and how we treat one another. It is more important now at this moment in time that our law enforcement agencies go above and beyond to maintain public trust and confidence.

Fairness and objectivity are key to ensuring the public trusts the integrity of any investigation. Given how the events have unfolded surrounding the death of De'Von Bailey-- the public details and video that have been shared and the questions that have been raised by the general public-- I hope that El Paso county takes steps above those legally required to additonally maximize trust in the investigation.

"I personally believe Colorado Springs residents would be best served by an independent review of the events surrounding De'Von Bailey's death. An independent review would ensure the public's confidence in the results and maintain trust in law enforcement going forward. I encourage the El Paso County district attorney's office to conisider turning the investigation's findings over to another local jurisdiction for independent review, and if warranted additional information gathering."