By KATHLEEN FOODY Associated Press
DENVER (AP) — Two Colorado police officers put on leave after shooting a man as he ran away from them have returned to active duty, a department spokesman said Friday.
Sgt. Alan Van’t Land and Officer Blake Evenson were placed on leave after the Aug. 3 shooting that killed 19-year-old De’Von Bailey.
Bailey’s funeral was held Friday in Colorado Springs. Two pastors working with his family criticized the officers’ return to work less than two weeks after the shooting.
“In my humble opinion, the Black and brown citizens of Colorado Springs are not safe with these officers on the street,” Terry Thomas, pastor of Lifting Up Jesus Church, said. “De’von Bailey didn’t get his measure of justice. Those officers put themselves in the position of officers, judge and jury and executioners.”
Police on Thursday released video from cameras worn by the officers, who appear to be White. It shows Bailey and another man, who are both Black, being questioned in a neighborhood about an armed robbery nearby.
The video shows Bailey runs away after Van’t Land tells the men that officers are going to search them for weapons. Van’t Land can be heard yelling “hands up!” three times before firing multiple shots. The footage shows Bailey falling to the ground and the officers running up to cuff his hands behind his back.
Evenson kneels at Bailey’s side and tugs at what appears to be a gun between his legs as he is bleeding.
“He’s got a gun in his pants,” Van’t Land says as Evenson struggles to free the object from Bailey’s shorts. Van’t Land then uses a blade to cut Bailey’s shorts before removing them.
A police department statement released Thursday along with the footage said both officers fired their weapons.
The shooting was investigated by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, which turned its findings over on Thursday to local prosecutors for their review. District Attorney Dan May’s office has said that process could take several months.
The Colorado Springs Police Department has declined to comment while that review is ongoing.
Bailey’s family has demanded that an independent prosecutor be appointed to review the shooting, Family attorneys argue that the police department, sheriff’s office and district attorney’s office work too closely together to be objective.
An autopsy determined that Bailey was shot four times — three times in the back and once in his right elbow, according to a report produced by the El Paso County coroner’s office and released Thursday by attorneys for Bailey’s family.
Van’t Land has been with the department for 11 years and Evenson for nearly seven years.