For the family of De’Von Bailey, answers surrounding the 19-year-old’s death came 13 days after his fatal encounter with Colorado Springs police. But the family of a man who was killed by officers less than two weeks earlier is still waiting.
Colorado Springs police have denied The Gazette’s requests to release body camera footage from the shooting death of Joshua Vigil on July 23 — the city’s fourth fatal police shooting of 2019 — citing the investigation by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
Despite the media interest and “nationwide focus on the conduct of law enforcement officers,” the release of the footage would be “contrary to the public interest,” CSPD spokesman Lt. Jim Sokolik said in an Aug. 30 email.
Instead, the public’s interest lies in the completion of an investigation by both agencies, Sokolik said. He said body cam footage typically is released after the district attorney rules on officer-involved shootings. He said if that evidence happens to be passed to a grand jury, the footage would be further delayed until a verdict is reached.
In Bailey’s case, however, footage worn by Sgt. Alan Van’t Land and Officer Blake Evenson was released less than two weeks after the officers approached the 19-year-old and his cousin regarding a reported armed robbery.
Bailey’s death sparked several protests outside City Hall and police headquarters during which his family and supporters demanded transparency from police.
Sokolik said police shared that footage because there was “a tremendous amount of misinformation being released” about the incident. In body-worn camera footage, Bailey is seen running from the officers after they said they would check for weapons. As he ran, he refused police orders to show his hands, and shots were fired.
One month after Vigil was killed, the 38-year-old’s family held posters and chanted outside the Police Operations Center, also demanding answers and release of the body camera footage.
“I don’t understand why [Bailey’s] family gets the answers they deserve and nobody even helps us out,” said Vigil’s daughter, Angelyna Reed. “It honestly blows my mind, and I don’t know why we aren’t being treated the same.”
In that shooting, officers approached Vigil while responding to a report of “a suspicious male walking with a gun” in the 2200 block of Monterey Road in southeast Colorado Springs. Vigil fled and officers did not chase him, the Sheriff’s Office reported.
Later, officers Lucas Aragon and Cole Jones and Sgt. Mark Keller found Vigil near the Fountain Garden Apartments at 3165 E. Fountain Blvd. Vigil died in a hospital after “at least one officer fired a shot,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a release.
Vigil’s oldest daughter, Brittni Reed, told The Gazette she saw at least 17 bullet wounds in her father’s head, back, chest, foot and legs. As of Thursday afternoon, his autopsy was not complete, said El Paso County Coroner Dr. Leon Kelly.
“We cannot even begin to grieve or heal without knowing the answers,” Reed said.
Police also has denied a request for the release of footage from Officer Christopher Laabs’ body-worn camera in this year’s third fatal police shooting, again citing the ongoing investigation. During that shooting on May 18, Laabs was in an hourslong standoff with Sean Michael Collins, 29, who barricaded himself in an apartment near Garden of the Gods Road and Centennial Boulevard. After Collins shot at Laabs, the officer returned fire, killing Collins, the Sheriff’s Office reported.
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