A judge on Friday denied a request to toss charges against the cousin of a man who was shot in the back while fleeing police.
An attorney for Lawrence Stoker failed to make the case that Colorado Springs police had insufficient cause to detain Stoker and De’Von Bailey during an Aug. 3 encounter that ended with Bailey’s death, El Paso County Judge Samuel Evig ruled.
Stoker, 19, remains on pace for a Nov. 19 trial on third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, accused of assaulting a man in an incident that preceded the police-involved shooting.
The ruling by Evig capped a half-day hearing at which the defense argued there were so many inconsistencies in the victim’s story that police should have detected them immediately and canceled their response.
Instead, three officers detained Bailey and Stoker within 14 minutes of the man calling 911. When Bailey took off running, officers Alan Van’t Land and Blake Evenson opened fire, reportedly fearful that he was reaching for a gun.
Body-cam footage released by investigators later confirmed Bailey, 19, was armed, showing officers removing a pistol from his pocket. But the footage only inflamed complaints that police used excessive force, killing a man critics say posed no threat.
The shooting remains under investigation by the District Attorney’s Office, which is reviewing whether officers acted legally.
Roughly 40 of Stoker’s supporters were in court for the hearing, where the defense had sought to call the alleged victim, Anthony Love, to the stand.
The judge ultimately quashed the subpoena, ruling that prosecutors had established probable cause without his testimony.
Love briefly appeared in the courtroom, surrounded by a phalanx of law enforcement officers, before he was escorted to another part of the courthouse.
Stoker’s attorney, Danny Kay, said inconsistent stories by Love, together with what Kay called obvious signs of intoxication, should have led officer Katherine McFerran to conclude he was lying, and to quash any pursuit.
McFerran testified that she had no reason to disbelieve Love, saying he had a swollen nose, blood in the corner of his mouth, a torn shirt and torn pockets — consistent with his story that he was robbed and punched in the face.
Additionally, Love gave accurate descriptions of both men, using Bailey’s nickname “Spaz,” and told police that Bailey pointed a gun at him.
In questioning her and a second police witness, Kay offered a preview of an apparent defense, asking the officers if they were aware of “swatting,” a practice in which people report bogus crimes for the purpose of getting someone in trouble.
Kay, who also represents the Bailey family in a potential wrongful death action, has argued that no robbery occurred and that Stoker and Love were actually involved in a fight that Love started.
The hearing included a screening of an officer’s body-worn camera during Stoker’s arrest. In it, Stoker can be seen reacting to the gunshots that killed his cousin, saying “Oh my God” and “That’s my cousin.”
Lying on his stomach with his hands cuffed behind his back, Stoker told an officer, “If he didn’t pull a gun, you can’t shoot him.”
“I’m an American,” Stoker added. “You’re going to hear from my lawyers.”
Stoker is due to return to court Oct. 18.