Three demonstrators who protested in the neighborhood of one of the Colorado Springs police officers involved in the shooting of De’Von Bailey were arrested following a joint investigation with the FBI, police announced Friday.
The arrests come more than a month after a crowd marched Aug. 3 in the Pulpit Rock neighborhood near the home of an officer who shot and killed Bailey in August 2019. Police said in a news release issued the three people incited and engaged in "a riot."
Sherrie Smith of Fountain, Lloyd Porche of Denver, and Charles Johnson of Colorado Springs were arrested after a month-long police investigation into the incident that police say “quickly escalated into riotous and illegal behavior."
Court records show police arrested Smith, 36, for allegedly pointing a rifle toward an occupied car and on suspicion of menacing and engaging in a riot — all felonies.
Porche, 33, was arrested after police say he was armed with a rifle and “engaged in menacing behavior” toward an occupied car and engaged in a riot. He was also arrested on suspicion of menacing, records show.
Johnson, 20, was arrested on suspicion of attempting to take a cell phone from another person, attempted robbery and inciting a riot, according to court records.
Colorado state law defines a riot as "a public disturbance involving an assemblage of three or more persons which by tumultuous and violent conduct creates grave danger of damage or injury to property or persons or substantially obstructs the performance of any governmental function."
An attorney was not listed in online court records for Porche or Johnson and a request for comment was not immediately returned from the public defender's office, which reportedly was assigned to represent Smith.
Police said in the release the more than month-long delay in arrests does "not deter our efforts in holding people accountable for engaging in illegal and dangerous behavior."
“As a department, we are committed to ensuring everyone’s rights. That includes protecting those who wish to speak against us and law enforcement as a whole,” Police Chief Vince Niski said in a statement. “But what we cannot allow is for illegal behavior in our city.”
Police in August issued a shelter-in-place order for residents in the 6000 block of Pulpit Rock Drive because of what they called “the civil disturbance/protest” in the area, The Gazette reported at the time. Demonstrators had gathered at the Pulpit Rock trailhead before they moved through the nearby neighborhood chanting Bailey’s name and “no justice, no peace.” The group stopped in front of a home and continued chanting.
Soon after, two trucks drove down the road the protesters were blocking and asked to be let through, but were told "no." One of the drivers expressed to the protesters that both officers involved in Bailey’s death were lawfully justified in their actions. Some protesters began banging on the truck and yelling at the driver, who was ultimately let through.
Colorado Springs officers were parked at the end of the road where the protest was held, but no officers were seen confronting them, news reports showed. Police lifted the shelter-in-place order by 7:30 p.m.
A grand jury in November ruled the officer-involved shooting of 19-year-old Bailey was justified, and cleared the involved officers, Alan Van't Land and Blake Evenson, of any wrongdoing.
Van't Land and Evenson were responding to an armed burglary call on Aug. 3, 2019, in a neighborhood southeast of Memorial Park where they encountered Bailey and his cousin, Lawrence Stoker. Both officers fired their weapons after repeatedly warning Bailey to put up his hands as he ran from them. Bailey was shot four times in the back and elbow by Van’t Land and Evenson, who were reported as being fearful that he was reaching for a gun.
The police body-cam footage released by investigators confirmed Bailey was armed, showing officers removing a pistol from his pocket after he was on the ground in handcuffs.
But the footage, along with video from a surveillance camera obtained by The Gazette, led to demonstrations protesting police brutality and claims of racism. Bailey is Black; the two officers involved in the shooting are white.
Smith, Porche and Johnson were booked into the El Paso County jail and have since been released after posting bond, records show. A judge set a $10,000 bond for Smith, $5,000 for Porche and $5,000 for Johnson, according to online records.