Dozens rally following
Amid chants of “no justice, no peace” and “black lives matter,” about 50 people of all races rallied outside Colorado Springs City Hall on Monday to protest the fatal Saturday shooting of De’Von Bailey.
The 19-year-old black Colorado Springs man was shot by a Colorado Springs Police officer shortly before 7 p.m. Saturday on Preuss Road near Adams Park. He was transported to a local hospital, where he later died of his injuries.
Preliminary media reports indicated that Bailey was one of two men suspected in an armed robbery around 6:45 p.m. on nearby Fountain Boulevard, and that when confronted by police he allegedly attempted to pull a handgun.
Witness reports, as well as statements from supporters seeking justice for the young man, suggested he was shot in the back as many as seven times as he ran from police.
Colorado Springs Police representatives did not immediately return calls for comment, and no official statement has been released. The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office has reportedly assumed control of the investigation into the shooting; however. It, too, did not respond to calls for comment.
A coroner’s representative confirmed Monday afternoon that an autopsy had been completed, and that the official report could take weeks to release.
Bailey’s godmother, Lakia Heslip, described him as, “a very courageous, outgoing, loving, daring young man with so many dreams.”
Bailey came from a large, faithful family, Heslip said. And although he wasn’t a perfect man — in April he was named to Crime Stoppers’ Most Wanted list for sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust — he was one who truly had a heart for others, Heslip said.
“He cared for so many people,” she continued, holding back tears. “He wanted to live life and to do things, and he had strengths.”
In an impassioned speech during the demonstration, she called for solidarity.
“All I want is peace,” Heslip said. “I want peace in this situation and every situation that goes on. If we have no unity, how can we have peace? … This situation is not going to be about anything if we don’t promote positivity. I understand that black lives matter, [but] all lives matter. Everyone’s children matter.
“We have to make change for one and for all,” she continued. “No matter what your beliefs are, we can agree to disagree but let’s also respect for ourselves and for one another. No matter what you believe in, let’s have true respect in the name of Jesus.”
‘You don’t adapt to this’
Applause and shouts of “thank you” and “amen,” rang out at the City Hall rally, but about a mile away at the Colorado Springs Police Operations Center, the atmosphere was decidedly different.
There, sobbing demonstrators rushed at and rattled the locked glass doors at the department’s front entrance. They chanted Bailey’s name, fists raised in the air, and added a refrain of “no racist police” to the previous “no justice, no peace” chorus.
Delaundre Jenkins, an acquaintance of Bailey’s, stood atop a brick and concrete island outside the operations center entrance, holding a sign that read “Police Brutality Kills Yet ANOTHER.”
He told the gathering crowd he hadn’t slept more than four hours in two days. He didn’t expect that to change.
“I’m not sleeping until they do their jobs,” he shouted. “You don’t get used to this, you don’t adapt to this.”
“Police need to understand that we’re watching them,” said community organizer and Colorado Springs resident Tyescha Clark. “Society needs to understand that it’s not OK.”Seeking a solution
Clark, 34, is the daughter of Puerto Rican-born parents and a mother of two. Because of that, she said, she is hugely aware of both her privilege (she was born in the continental U.S. and didn’t have to migrate with her family), and the challenges she and her family face as people of color.
And she worries daily about her son’s safety.
“All the time,” she said. “De’Von [Bailey] is just one of so many. The normalcy of it is too much.”
Stephany Rose Spaulding wore oversized sunglasses and a bright red “Moms Demand Action” T-shirt. The University of Colorado, Colorado Springs chairperson of Women and Ethnic Studies and ordained minister was on hand at City Hall for the first portion of the rally. Spaulding is also a candidate for the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Sen. Cory Gardner for his seat, but she said she was at the rally to minister to Bailey’s family’s needs.
Nonetheless, she said, real immediate change — such as in how police are trained to respond in volatile situations — could help prevent future fatal shootings. She also called for increased funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate and remediate the causes of all gun violence, whether it be mass shootings, domestic violence or police-involved cases.
District four City Councilor Yolanda Avila was unable to attend the vigil, but she emphasized the importance of listening to community members at this time.
“This did happen in my district,” she said. “I would like to see something continued so that the community is able to express themselves.”
Avila added that she wants to give the sheriff’s office enough time to effectively complete the investigation, “because this is a life or death situation.”
“Of course, I do not want to see people of color targeted,” she said. “But, at the same time… we’ve got to wait for the investigation to finish. I understand the need for answers from the community, but they’re not there yet.”
Spaulding reiterated the calls to reject shootings as a macabre new normal.
“Our community has a hole brought by De’Von’s great loss,” Spaulding said. “This is too familiar. People recognize his loss in their own trauma.”
Southeast Express intern Lily Reavis contributed to this report