Elijah McClain died due to complications of ketamine administration after being forcibly restrained by Aurora, Colorado police officers, a newly amended autopsy report reveals.
According to NBC News, a judge ordered the report’s release on Thursday (September 22), which contains the full and unredacted findings of how the 23-year-old passed away. The coroner's report attributes the paramedics’ administration of ketamine for McClain’s death.
"Simply put, this dosage of ketamine was too much for this individual and it resulted in an overdose, even though his blood ketamine level was consistent with a 'therapeutic' blood concentration," Dr. Stephen Cina, who performed the autopsy, said in his report, according to CBS News. "I believe that Mr. McClain would most likely be alive but for the administration of ketamine."
Friday’s autopsy report answers some questions surrounding McClain’s death, which occurred in August 2019 after he was stopped by police in Colorado and sedated by paramedics.
Previously, his official cause of death was listed as “undetermined” with the coroner noting that there could have been several ways he died. The amendment also comes after new evidence was revealed during a grand jury investigation.
The report does not indicate that the chokehold placed on McClain during the administration of ketamine contributed to his death, although Cina said he couldn’t rule that out.
"A Carotid control hold was applied during the decedent's restraint. I cannot determine whether this carotid control hold contributed to death via stimulation of the carotid sinus, though the literature suggests that this was unlikely," Cina wrote. "Further, this type of hold is often used in the martial arts with no lasting adverse consequences. There were no findings in the neck indicative of traumatic asphyxiation. In addition, during restraint the body weight of officers was used to subdue the decedent, however after this weight was removed, the decedent was still alive and able to speak. I have seen no evidence that injuries inflicted by the police contributed to death."
McClain was confronted by Aurora, Colorado police officers on August 24, 2019 after someone reported a suspicious person wearing a mask. McClain was walking home with groceries while wearing the mask at the time, which his family notes was not uncommon as they say he was anemic and often felt cold. Though he was unarmed and peaceful, police officers put him in a chokehold before medics injected him with ketamine.
Late last month, State Attorney General Phil Weiser announced charges against two police officers, one former officer, and two paramedics for placing McClain in the chokehold and administering the powerful sedative, which led to his death days later. The five defendants were each charged with one count of manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, as well as other charges in the 32-count indictment.
The officers named are Nathan Woodyard, Randy Roedema and former officer Jason Rosenblatt. The paramedics are Peter Cichuniec and Jeremy Cooper.