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 happened 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.
“We felt it was important for the public to see the results of the investigation as we receive them,” Aurora City Manager Jim Twombly said in a statement Monday. “We have welcomed the completeness and thoroughness of investigators over the past six months. We are currently reviewing their report and look forward to hearing additional context during their presentation before commenting further. City management will work with the mayor and city council in the coming days and weeks to ensure the appropriate next steps are taken.
One of the three Aurora officers involved, Jason Rosenblatt, was eventually fired from the suburban Denver force after responding “haha” to a texted photo showing other officers reenacting one of the chokes used on McClain on his memorial site. The other two officers – Nathan Woodyard and Randy Roedema – have been assigned “non-enforcement” duties.
In addition to Monday’s report, the Colorado attorney general’s office has asked a grand jury to review the case to determine whether criminal charges are warranted and the Department of Justice is also investigating. Last year, McClain’s family also filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Aurora.
According to the official police report, the Aurora Police Department received a call from an unidentified resident at 10:32 p.m. on August 24, 2019, regarding a “suspicious black man wearing a ski mask.”
But McClain, who had made the quick run to the grocery store to buy bottled tea for his cousin and wore an open ski mask because he suffered from anemia, which made him often cold, was unarmed. and just listened to music.
The police report says Woodyard, who was the first officer to arrive at the scene, asked McClain to stop on three occasions. When McClain ignored the orders, Woodyard said he approached the 23-year-old, who allegedly told him, “I have the right to go where I go.” In response, Woodyard said, “I have the right to stop you because you are suspicious,” before grabbing McClain’s arm.
During the 15-minute altercation, the three officers tackled McClain to the ground and put him in a carotid hold after an officer was overheard saying, “He’s going to get your gun.” In the police body camera audio, McClain begs for his life and he repeatedly tells the police he couldn’t breathe.
“I don’t have a gun. I’m not doing this, ”McClain said after denying he was resisting arrest. “I don’t do any fighting. Why are you attacking me? I don’t even kill flies.
“Let me go, no let me go, I’m an introvert, please respect my limits as I speak,” McClain also told officers, according to body camera footage. When officers told him to “relax,” McClain said he was going home.
While in the strangulation, McClain passed out, according to the police report.
When medical first responders arrived, they injected him with ketamine to calm him down – even though McClain had passed out in police restraint. He suffered a heart attack in the ambulance and was removed from the respiratory system six days later.
The report concludes that Aurora’s paramedics did not properly examine McClain before injecting him with nearly 500 milligrams of ketamine – a dose that was a “grossly inaccurate” estimate of the 23-year-old’s weight. Investigators say paramedics estimated McClain to weigh 190 pounds when he actually weighed about 50 pounds less.
“Aurora Fire appears to have accepted the officers’ impression that Mr. McClain had aroused delirium without corroborating that impression with a significant observation or diagnostic examination of Mr. McClain,” the report said.
Once loaded into the ambulance, paramedics observed that McClain “had no pulse.” Authorities later said he “suffered cardiac arrest and rescue measures were taken,” according to the police report.
McClain was declared brain dead at 3:51 p.m. on August 27, 2019. The Adams County Coroner’s Office found he died of “undetermined causes” but has not ruled on the matter. find out if the police carotid artery – or ketamine – could have contributed to it until his death. Soon after, the district attorney concluded that the three officers involved were not criminally responsible.
“In the Committee’s view, major crime investigators did not meaningfully investigate the continued use of force by officers after Mr. McClain was detained, for example by taking a closer look at the officers’ claims that Mr. McClain continued to resist. Even once it should have been obvious that Mr. McClain was unable to resist or escape, given both he was handcuffed and in the presence of several officers, officers continued to use pain control techniques, ”the independent survey said.
“Throughout, there were times when officers could be seen on body worn camera footage adjusting and stepping up armbands and wrists or pressing on Mr. McClain’s back or lateral muscle groups, doing so. screaming in pain as they were at the top. from him. These seemed to be a response to almost every move from Mr. McClain. Officers were still discussing keeping the pressure on until Mr. McClain was given a shot of ketamine – and even though he didn’t appear to be moving at the time.
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