Eighteen months after the death of Elijah McClain at the hands of Aurora, Colorado police, an independent investigation points to wrongdoing on the part of the officers who detained and choked the 23-year-old unarmed Black man.
According to the Denver Post, an independent investigation commissioned by the city found “Aurora police officers did not have a legal basis to force Elijah McClain to stop walking, to frisk him or to use a chokehold on him.”
The department’s detectives in the Major Crimes Unit cleared the officers of any wrongdoing but the investigation claims “the report of the Major Crime Unit stretched the record to exonerate the officers rather than present a neutral version of the facts.”
A statement from the Rathod Mohamedbhai law firm, which represents Elijah’s mother Sheneen McClain, reads, “The Aurora officials who contributed to Elijah’s death must be immediately terminated. Ms. McClain continues to call for the criminal prosecution of those responsible for Elijah’s death. Elijah committed no crime on the day of his death, but those who are responsible for Elijah’s death certainly did.”
CNN reports that Aurora Police declined to comment on the report. It’s not clear when or if the officers will be charged. In November of 2019, District Attorney Dave Young refused to press charges against the officers involved because the autopsy said the cause of death was inclusive. Young told CNN's Chris Cuomo in June 2020, "I cannot take a case to the jury where I don't know what the cause of death is on a homicide case.”
McClain was reportedly walking home from a convenience store on August 24, 2019, when police responded to a call of a “suspicious man” with a ski mask. Officers detained McClain by placing him in a chokehold. Paramedics arrived on the scene and injected him with a large dosage of ketamine to sedate him.
Body camera footage shows McClain being wrestled to the ground, vomiting, crying and gasping “I can’t breathe,” as police detained him. Three days later, he was declared brain dead and an autopsy was found inconclusive.
The lawsuit is the latest controversy surrounding the Aurora Police Department. Last week, a viral video surfaced of officers holding a Black family at gunpoint when they mistook their vehicle for a stolen car.
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(Photo courtesy of the McClain family)