The Colorado Springs City Council on Tuesday agreed to a $2.97 million settlement with the family of De’Von Bailey, the Black man who was fatally shot by police during a confrontation in 2019. 19-year-old Bailey had his back turned when he was shot four times.
According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, the settlement comes after Bailey’s family filed a lawsuit against the city following his death. The other defendants named in the lawsuit were police Sgt. Alan Van’t Land and Blake Evenson – the officers who fatally shot Bailey. The Black teen’s death triggered a series of protests in the city. But the two officers involved in the fatal incident were not criminally charged by a grand jury.
The city also agreed to settle to avoid going to trial. Under the city’s insurance policy, any amount awarded in excess of $1 million would have been covered by the city.
Despite welcoming the settlement, Bailey’s cousin, Lawrence Stoker, said no amount of money could reverse his cousin’s death. Stoker, 21, was with Bailey when the police officers approached them. He was, however, not named in the settlement.
“I’m happy they’re getting the money, but I’m not happy that he’s dead — can’t no money replace that,” Stoker said. “That’s a start but there’s a bunch more that could be done. Holding them accountable a lot more would be a big first step,” he added in reference to the settlement’s non-monetary requirements.
Bailey’s mother, Delisha Searcy, also re-echoed Stoker’s sentiments. “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,” she said.
Besides the settlement, the city also agreed to a number of non-monetary changes in the city’s police department. This includes anti-bias training to officers as well as the maintenance of an “early intervention program” that will target officers “who have recent use of force” or have been subject to internal affairs investigation, a statement from Bailey’s lawyers said, according to CBS4.
In a press release, the Colorado Springs Police Department said it had already implemented the non-monetary requirements of the settlement, adding that they went into effect before the settlement, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported.
“The very fact that so many big cases are being brought against the city of Colorado Springs for constitutional violation demonstrates that they need to change their conduct,” family attorney Mari Newman said.
The police department, however, said the settlement “is not, in any way, an admission or indication of wrongdoing by these officers.” The two officers involved in the fatal shooting are still at post.
“I think this is the way we stand behind the officers in this case,” Mayor John Suthers said. “They did not do anything wrong, and I feel very strongly about that.”
Bailey’s police shooting death happened on August 3, 2019. Bailey and his cousin were confronted by police officers who were responding to an armed robbery report. The two men were, however, not the culprits.
Police camera footage showed officers questioning Bailey and Stoker about the alleged robbery. But when one of the officers tries searching Bailey for a gun, he is seen fleeing the scene.
Police also said they ordered Bailey to raise his hands, but he did not comply. Officers Van’t Land and Evenson also claimed they opened fire on Bailey because they feared he was grabbing a gun, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported.
Bailey sustained four gunshot wounds to the back and elbow. In the aftermath of the fatal shooting, body camera footage showed Bailey was armed. But protesters who took to the streets after footage of the fatal encounter were released called out the police for their handling of the incident.