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Police in Aurora, Colo. Had no legal powers to arrest Elijah McClain, independent report says

Police officers in Aurora, Colo. Who arrested Elijah McClain on his way home from a convenience store – then put him in a carotid hold where he repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe before injecting him with ketamine – did not. legal basis for the August 2019 altercation, an independent investigation has been concluded.

The 157-page report, commissioned by the City of Aurora after McClain’s death sparked worldwide condemnation, offered startling details about the countless missteps involved in the 23-year-old black massage therapist’s death. Independent investigators concluded in the report released Monday that “the post-event investigation was flawed and failed to significantly develop a comprehensive case. These facts confuse the panel. However, it was not our responsibility to assess whether misconduct had occurred; on the contrary, our task was simply to report what we could learn from the file and make political recommendations. “

Investigators found that McClain’s death quickly; however, neither the resident who initially called 911 nor the officers who responded even identified the 23-year-old as having committed a crime.

“Seconds after getting out of their car, officers used force against Mr. McClain, which they suffered for a long time, including two attempted carotid chocks,” the report said. “EMS waited almost seven minutes after arriving to interact with Mr. McClain, and their first contact was to administer the sedative ketamine.

“Body-worn camera sound, limited video and Major Crime’s interviews with officers tell two contrasting stories,” the report said. “Police statements at the scene and in the recorded interviews that followed suggest a violent and relentless struggle. Limited video and audio from body-worn cameras reveal Mr. McClain is surrounded by officers, all taller than himself, screaming in pain, apologizing, explaining himself and pleading with officers.

Additionally, the report points to paramedics who put McClain to sleep with an inaccurate dose of ketamine “without doing anything more than a brief visual observation.”

After the incident, detectives did not ask basic questions of the officers involved, and instead, “the questions often seemed designed to elicit a specific exonerating ‘magic language’ found in court decisions,” according to The report.

“In addition, the report of the Major Crimes Unit extended the case to exonerate the police rather than presenting a neutral version of the facts,” the report said. “It’s hard to imagine others involved in a fatal incident being questioned like these officers were.

The city hired a panel of investigators to review the decisions of officers and paramedics that led to McClain’s death on August 24 after an intense national scrutiny. In the wake of outrage over the death of George Floyd in May 2020, protesters have called for renewed attention to several deaths at the hands of police, including those of McClain.

His mother, Sheneen McClain, said in a statement after the report was released that she was “relieved that the truth about her son’s death has finally been revealed.”

“The independent investigation which was commissioned and funded by Aurora clearly shows what was already known: Elijah should never have been arrested by the police, never have been arrested, never been subjected to extreme force of from the police and should never have been forced. injected with ketamine by Aurora Fire Rescue paramedics, “said McClain, adding that Aurora officials violated her son’s constitutional rights and the city was” responsible for Elijah’s tragic death due to the illegal and inappropriate actions of its employees.

She said the officials who had contributed to her son’s death should be fired.

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