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Polis rules out ordering attorney general’s investigation into fatal police shooting of De’Von Bailey

Gov. Jared Polis had earlier called for an independent review of the shooting and met with Bailey’s family, but stopped short of using his power to order the attorney general to investigate.

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A Colorado Springs police officer questions 19-year-old De’Von Bailey, left, before he was fatally shot by officers. (Screenshot)

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has ruled out ordering an independent investigation into the fatal shooting of 19-year-old De’Von Bailey by Colorado Springs police. 

The decision comes a week after a grand jury declined to charge the officers involved in the August shooting. 

Polis had earlier called for an independent review of the encounter and met with Bailey’s family, but stopped short of using his power to order Attorney General Phil Weiser to investigate. 

“Now that the grand jury has concluded, the governor wants to ensure that our state supports the Bailey family and the community as they heal and recover,” Polis’ spokesman, Conor Cahill, said in a written statement.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis at an event in Aurora on July 12, 2019. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

Darold Killmer, a lawyer for Bailey’s family, said he was disappointed. They had wanted an outside agency to investigate the shooting instead of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and El Paso County District Attorney’s Office, as is protocol, arguing that having overlapping law enforcement agencies investigating each other represented a conflict.

“The community cannot have confidence that an impartial review of the evidence has been made since the Colorado Springs law enforcement apparatus (comprised of the police department, sheriff’s office and DA’s office) has stunning and obvious conflicts of interest among them,” Killmer said.

Killmer said it’s now “up to the family and the community to work toward securing justice for De’Von, and accountability for those who killed him.”

Polis says he wants to work with state lawmakers during the upcoming legislative session, which begins in January, to “examine how (the state) handles these cases and we need to identify solutions where we don’t compromise public safety and ensure that our communities are protected and have faith in law enforcement,” Cahill said. 

“The governor looks forward to working with legislators and anyone interested in engaging in this conversation,” Cahill said. 

Conversations are already underway about potential changes to the way law enforcement-involved deaths in the state are investigated and reviewed.

MORE: Gov. Polis and state lawmakers eye changes to how police-involved deaths are investigated in Colorado

While the ideas being floated are still very preliminary, one proposal is to rethink Colorado’s law allowing officers to use deadly force against people they suspect are fleeing a felony, known as the “fleeing-felon law.”

The grand jury reviewing the Bailey case found that officers should not be charged, in part, because of the fleeing-felon law.

Prosecutors and the state’s county sheriffs have expressed skepticism about changing the way law enforcement-involved deaths are investigated, however. 

Bailey was shot in the back as he ran from officers who were investigating reports of an armed robbery. A gun was found in his shorts after officers mortally wounded him. The officers were trying to search Bailey for weapons when he ran. 

Rising Sun