Family of black man shot by Colorado police files civil rights lawsuit

DENVER (Reuters) – The family of a 19-year-old African-American man who was fatally shot in the back by Colorado Springs police last year has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city and the officers, court documents showed on Thursday.

De’Von Bailey was shot multiple times after he bolted from two officers, who were questioning him and another man about an armed robbery. The city’s police department said he had a handgun. The incident was recorded by police body cameras.

An El Paso County grand jury in November declined to indict the officers.

The complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Denver said police “racially profiled Mr. Bailey and assumed at least partly because of his race that he presented an enhanced threat to their safety.”

Bailey’s father, Greg Bailey, said in a statement on Thursday that the shooting was “murder, pure and simple.”

“He was running away, and they shot him in the back like an animal,” the statement said.

A spokesman for the Colorado Springs Police Department, Lieutenant James Sokolik, said the department does not comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit follows days of protests in cities across the United States, including Colorado Springs, over the killing of George Floyd, an African-American who died while being restrained by Minneapolis police.

Four Minneapolis police officers have been charged criminally for Floyd’s death, which was filmed by a bystander using a cellphone, including one officer held on a second-degree murder charge.

Footage of Bailey’s shooting showed him dropping to the ground and moaning as he bled from his lower back. He is then handcuffed by the officers, who recover a handgun from his waistband.

The lawsuit names as defendants the two officers involved in the shooting, Alan Van’t Land and Blake Evenson, the city of Colorado Springs and its police department. The family is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive monetary damages.

Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Daniel Wallis