COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – Colorado Springs has reached a nearly $3 million settlement in a civil lawsuit brought by the family of a 19-year-old Black man who was fatally shot in the back by police officers in 2019.
In a news conference, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers told reporters the settlement over the death of De’Von Bailey was not acknowledgement of wrongdoing, but a decision the city reached with its excess insurance carrier.
“What I don’t like is, to the average person out there who doesn’t deal in excess insurance world, seems like a lot of money. Well, this sounds like the city’s acknowledging that these officers did something wrong. Obviously the city is not acknowledging that. The officers are not acknowledging that. They were found to not engage in any wrongdoing by El Paso County grand jury,” said Suthers.
He said he believed the case would proceed to trial, and said it was likely the city would end up paying more no matter the verdict.
In a statement on Tuesday, Suthers further explained the decision;
“The City of Colorado Springs is self-insured up to $1M in liability for any incident. The City has excess insurance coverage for any liability in excess of $1M. The estimated cost of trying the case through appeal is $1M, so the City would be responsible for that amount whether the case was tried or settled. Pursuant to the terms of the insurance contract, the excess carrier took the position that if the City did not agree to settle the matter for $2.975M, any verdict above that amount would be the liability of the tax payers or the police officers themselves. Under these circumstances, despite the fact that the El Paso County Grand Jury, the FBI And Department of Justice, unanimously agreed that the officers acted in self-defense and wholly in conformance with the law, it was deemed prudent to allow the insurance company to dictate settlement of the case.”
Mari Newman, one of the attorney’s for the Bailey family applauds the changes that came as a result of the case, but said the department should also accept responsibility for Bailey’s death.
“The city’s continued refusal to accept responsibility and to take accountability is pretty stunning, and it demonstrates exactly why the training and particularly the anti-bias training that’s been mandated in this settlement is necessary. Clearly the city of Colorado Springs and these officers just don’t get it,” said Newman.
Newman said in addition to the settlement, the city has committed to make the following changes in its policies and training:
a. Provide training for every officer who has not already received training regarding the new use of force policies and other police practices set forth in SB 2020-217 and HB 2021-1250;
b. Provide annual anti-bias training, for no less than two years, that specifically addresses the understanding that race should have no role in officers’ perceptions of risk;
c. Actively maintain an early intervention program to mitigate the potential for escalating employee issues, identify personnel who may require assistance or training to perform their duties and to preemptively intervene and improve performance, with a focus on officers who have recent use of force, internal affairs investigation, pursuit, and/or vehicular collision history that merits review. The program shall remain active with information reviewed for action on a weekly basis.
d. The Colorado Springs Police Department will participate in the United Way Give Campaign in 2021 so long as the City of Colorado Springs participates, as it has in the past, in the program;
e. On an annual basis, for no less than two years, provide communication regarding the Good Neighbor Next Door Program available through the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development;
f. Ensure that all officers’ personnel files are retained for the duration of the employee’s career, including but not limited to all personnel investigative files, Supervisory Discussion Reports, findings of misconduct, all internal affairs (or other) investigations, and all CSPD administrative reviews, and all use of force internal affairs reviews.