DENVER | Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Thursday called for an independent investigation of the fatal shooting of a black teenager during a foot chase with police.
Polis urged the El Paso County District Attorney’s Office to turn the probe into De’Von Bailey’s Aug. 3 death over to another local jurisdiction in the interest of “fairness and objectivity.”
“Our nation is grappling with difficult challenges concerning race and how we treat one another,” the governor said. “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.”
Bailey, 19, was shot three times in the back and once in the right elbow while running away from two Colorado Springs police officers.
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office investigated, and prosecutors could take months to review the findings. Meanwhile, Bailey’s family and their attorney are arguing that the police department, sheriff’s office and district attorney’s office work too closely to be objective.
Family attorney Mari Newman says the police department falsely claimed Bailey was reaching for a firearm, and the sheriff’s office parroted the narrative.
“When the investigating agency has already adopted the lie used to justify the killing, the only conclusion is that the so-called ‘investigation’ is biased,” she said in a statement released Wednesday.
Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Jacqueline Kirby declined to comment about the investigation or Polis’ request, other than to say the findings have been turned over to the district attorney’s office. The District Attorney’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday but tweeted it “is committed to a thorough, fair and neutral review.”
Body camera footage shows officers talking to Bailey and another man in a neighborhood about an armed robbery that was reported nearby. One officer orders the men, who are both black, to keep their hands up so another officer can search them for weapons.
Bailey runs away as he is about to be searched and is seen with his hands near his waistband.
The officer can be heard yelling “hands up!” three times before firing multiple shots. The footage shows Bailey falling to the ground and the officers running up to cuff his hands behind his back.
An officer kneeling at Bailey’s side tugs at a gun between his legs as he is bleeding.
“He’s got a gun in his pants,” another officer says as the kneeling officer struggles to free the object from Bailey’s shorts.
In Colorado, district attorneys can decide to file charges, send a case to a grand jury or determine police were justified in a shooting.