August 16, 2019 / 12:03 AM / 10 days ago

Body camera video shows Colorado police fatally shooting suspect in back

DENVER (Reuters) - Body camera footage from two Colorado policemen who shot and killed a black man earlier this month shows the 19-year-old was shot multiple times in the back as he fled officers about to question him about an armed robbery.

De’Von Bailey was fatally shot on Aug. 3 by officers of the Colorado Springs Police Department, who said the teenager was armed with a handgun. The video does not show Bailey brandishing a weapon at officers, but a handgun was found in his pants after the shooting.

The man’s death sparked outrage and protests from the African-American community and Bailey’s family, who said through their lawyers that Bailey did not pose a threat to officers.

“The family is devastated at having seen this evidence of the wholly unjustified killing of their beloved family member,” the lawyers’ statement said.

Police shootings of suspects have been under intense scrutiny since Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot dead by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, five years ago, sparking the nationwide “Black Lives Matter” movement.

In video released by police on Thursday, officers confront Bailey and another man about an armed robbery. A man called police to report that Bailey and another man had robbed him at gunpoint.

As the officers approach the pair, Bailey turns and runs away, and one officer can be heard saying “Hands up” to Bailey three times before firing his weapon.

Bailey is seen dropping to the ground, moaning as blood seeps from his lower back.  The officers then handcuff him. An autopsy revealed Bailey died from “massive blood loss” after bullets perforated his heart, left lung and other organs.

The case has been referred to El Paso County District Attorney Dan May, who said in a statement it typically takes his office between 90 and 120 days to determine whether an officer-involved shooting is justified, criminal charges are warranted, or it is submitted to a grand jury.

The two officers who discharged their weapons were identified as Alan Van’t Land, and Blake Evenson, who are both on administrative leave, Colorado Springs Police said.

Former Denver prosecutor Craig Silverman, who is not involved in the case, said after viewing the footage that the officers’ actions are “problematic” but there is conflicting case law regarding shooting at fleeing suspects.

Reporting by Keith Coffman; editing by Bill Tarrant and Bill Rigby

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