COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — The El Paso County Grand Jury found the two Colorado Springs Police Officers who shot and killed a 19-year-old robbery suspect as he was running away from them were justified in the use of deadly force. Sergeant Alan Van't Land and Officer Blake Evenson were the subjects of a statutory multi-agency deadly force investigation as a result of the August 3, 2019 shooting which claimed the life of De'Von Bailey.
According to the Grand Jury Report made public Thursday, the jurors believe there are two legal grounds upon which the officers were justified in the use of deadly physical force; one commonly referred to as the "fleeing felon" defense, the other is self defense and defense against others.
As to the "fleeing felon" statute, the grand jury concluded that the officers had reasonable belief that Bailey had committed a felony and was in possession of a gun.
"The law requires officers take necessary steps to protect innocent bystanders and themselves from a fleeing felon in possession of a firearm," the report states. "The law does not require that a suspect point a firearm at officers or others before they may use deadly force."
With respect to self-defense and the defense of other, the Grand Jury concluded that Sgt Van't Land and Officer Evenson were aware that Bailey had just committed an armed robbery and was still in possession of gun when they approached him. The body worn camera video showed Sgt Van't Land giving clear instructions not to put his hands at his waist.
Bailey fled as the officers approached for a pat down search and was running in a residential neighborhood towards a public park and an elementary school. The report also points out that Bailey refused to show his hands and instead reached towards the front of his waistband, disobeying direct and repeated orders.
"The officers were understandably concerned that he intended to draw his firearm which would put innocent civilians or officers in danger of serious bodily injury or death," the report states.
The Fourth Judicial District Attorney's Office brought in an independent expert in the use-of-force to review the shooting and that expert testified before the Grand Jury. While the expert remains unnamed, the report states that he has no connections to Colorado Springs or the State of Colorado and has made determinations in several cases where officer involved shootings were not justified.
"He concluded that the officers acted reasonably when they used lethal force to subdue Mr. Bailey," the report states.
The report acknowledges the grief of Bailey's friends and relatives in it's final paragraph by noting that the events of August 3, 2019 were tragic.
"The family and friends of Mr. Bailey have suffered an immeasurable loss. The community, witnesses and officers have all been deeply affected by this incident," the report states. "None of this changes the fact that Mr. Bailey chose a course of action on August 3, 2019 that led Sgt Van't Land and Officer Evenson to make a real-time judgment to use deadly force to protect the community and law-abiding citizens they are sworn to protect."
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