Aurora public relations catastrophe over scathing loss of life investigation towards Elijah McClain
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Aurora is in full combat mode on Feb.22 following the release of a scathing report of the death of 23-year-old Elijah McClain in August 2019 after a controversial police encounter described as more than fifteen minutes of torture.
The 157-page document written by Jonathan Smith, Dr. Melissa Costello and Roberto Villaseñor, an independent investigation team commissioned by Aurora City Council, has been incredibly dense with criticism of virtually everything the authorities in the city did before and after the attack on McClain that I had committed no crime and was originally designed to dance to music while wearing a ski mask while walking home from a supermarket – so dense that officers are still struggling to figure out how to deal with all of the contents of the report.
Case in point, Aurora City Council scheduled a ninety-minute special session on analysis at 5:00 p.m. on February 22, just before its regular 6:30 p.m. session – but a recitation of the damned facts essentially took up the whole time. In a matter of minutes, Mayor Mike Coffman asked the panel if its members could come up at a later date in a different format to actually answer questions about their findings – a request they were open to.
In the meantime, a press conference is scheduled for today, February 23, at 10:30 a.m., which will be attended by the chiefs of the Aurora police and fire brigade, among others.
Here is the video from last night’s special session:
McClain’s mother, Sheneen McClain, and father, LaWayne Mosely, have jointly sued the City of Aurora over the circumstances surrounding their son’s death, but they also have separate legal representation. Sheneen is advised by Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC and Mosely works with lawyer Mari Newman of Killmer, Lane & Newman LLP.
In a statement, Qusair Mohamedbhai of Rathod Mohamedbhai said Sheneen McClain was grateful that “this independent investigation has exposed the misconduct of Aurora employees responsible for the death of their son. It continues to urge Aurora to hold its employees accountable The Aurora officials who contributed to Elijah’s death must be terminated immediately. Ms. McClain continues to call for those responsible for Elijah’s death to be prosecuted. Elijah did not commit any crime on the day of his death, only those responsible for Elijah’s death are certainly done. “
Sheneen added, “Elijah believed in humanity and that humanity is important. Inhuman people are a problem and we must stop unjust laws.”
For his part, Newman sees in the report “all errors in connection with the so-called investigation into the murder of Elijah McClain and Aurora’s long history of racist brutality, which persists through his consistent mistakes”.
Regarding the report’s potential impact on the lawsuit, Newman said, “This undoubtedly confirms everything we have said over the past year and a half. As the report points out, officials did not even have legal justification to stop Elijah – and.. the stop, of course, set the wheels in motion for all the horrific things that happened. It shows in detail that they did not have the legal authority to stop, knock down, attack, or use the force they used And she also condemns the failure of Aurora’s fire rescue, pointing out that the paramedics didn’t even make the most cursory diagnoses but acted at the behest of the police, which was a total lifting of theirs, and then they injected Elijah with a massive overdose of one dangerous drug (ketamine) with no safety measures in place. “
The Smith-Costello-Villaseñor investigation is one of several investigations into McClain’s death. As Newman points out, “The Colorado attorney general has two investigations pending. One is the criminal investigation they appointed a grand jury to conduct and the other is the SB-approved investigation into patterns and practices. 217,” better known as the Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity Act, which was signed into law by Governor Jared Polis last June. This is “the first investigation under this new law,” Newman suggests.
“The federal government issued a statement stating that they are conducting an investigation, even though I have never been contacted by any federal agency,” she added. “And we’re also continuing an investigation into our civil lawsuit.”
Click here to read Elijah McClain’s investigation report and recommendations.
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Michael Roberts has been writing for Westword since October 1990 and has worked as a music editor and media columnist. It currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.