Elijah McClain’s family is suing Aurora officers, paramedics who were involved in his death

Elijah McClain’s parents filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday alleging that the Aurora police officers and paramedics involved in his death had violated his constitutional rights, and that McClain’s death was another example of how systematic racism in the police department affected the city’s black residents harms.

According to the lawsuit, Aurora officers should never have stopped McClain, they should never have attacked and choked him, and paramedics should never have injected him with ketamine or used such a large dose.

“Plaintiffs are bringing this lawsuit both to take responsibility for the profound loss of a beautiful soul and to ensure Elijah did not die in vain by sending a powerful message that racism and brutality have no place in American law enforcement have “, it says in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges the city of Aurora, the three Aurora officials who stopped him – Nathan Woodyard, Randy Roedema and Jason Rosenblatt – as well as ten other local officials, a paramedic and the doctor overseeing Aurora Fire Rescue’s ketamine program , named as a defendant. Two of the officers who responded to the scene on the night of McClain’s imprisonment later returned to the area now a memorial and snapped smiling photos reenacting the choke officers used on McClain.

Michael Bryant, a spokesman for Aurora, said Tuesday that the city is reviewing the lawsuit and will not be able to comment until the review is complete.

Aurora police stopped McClain on Aug. 24 after a report from a suspect. Officers decided to arrest McClain, forcing him to the ground and handcuffing him before a medic injected McClain with ketamine. McClain suffered cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital, where he was later declared insane. He died on August 30th.

The lawsuit, which lasted nearly a year, comes after months of protests against police brutality in Colorado and across the country that have drawn attention to the case. Pressure from the public and city guides has led to several outside investigations into McClain’s death.

But McClain’s case isn’t the only one in which Aurora police have used excessive force against black residents. The lawsuit alleges that McClain’s death is part of a pattern of such incidents caused by systemic racism in the Aurora Police Department.

“Aurora’s unconstitutional behavior on the night of August 24, 2019 is part of a broader custom, policy and practice of racism and brutality that is reflected in his behavior before and after the murder of Elijah McClain, a young black boy. “It says in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit begins with a transcript of some of McClain’s final words that were taped on officers’ body cameras.

“I can’t breathe properly because…. Ok, ok … I can’t feel myself. Ow! Ah! Ow! Please stop! … I’m trying … Please help me, “McClain said as he vomited.

While McClain asked for the officers to stop, they continued to choke him and hold him back, the lawsuit says.

“Although Elijah had not committed a crime and the police had absolutely no reason to believe that he had, the APD officers subjected Elijah to protracted, excruciating violence for eighteen minutes – fifteen of which Elijah was handcuffed and lying on the ground the floor.” Attorney Mari Newman said in a statement Tuesday. “The force APD officers used against Elijah was to squeeze his neck and blood flow to his brain with two consecutive carotid movements, cranking his left shoulder with an armbar hammer lock that caused him to burst repeatedly, and himself after he was handcuffed, hands behind his back continued to crush him under the weight of their bodies and repeatedly hit him on the floor. “

While officers later said they reacted with such overwhelming force because even though McClain had grabbed one of their guns, officers gave conflicting statements about which of the guns the officers reportedly grabbed.

The lawsuit also contains evidence that the Aurora Fire Rescue paramedics who were injected with McClain ketamine did so without regard to the correct dosage. Two paramedics grossly overestimated McClain’s weight – they suggested the 143-pound man weighed 187 or 220 pounds. The Aurora Fire Rescue protocol states that paramedics should use five milligrams of the drug per pound of body weight, which means that a correct dosage for McClain would have been around 325 milligrams. Instead, paramedics injected him with 500 milligrams of the drug.

A file inquiry from the law firm representing the McClain, Killmer, Lane, and Newman families found that Aurora Fire Rescue injected someone with 500 mg of ketamine in nine cases, although reports did not record the person’s weight.

“Both AFR defendants later also alleged that although they knew the AFR protocol required a specific weight-based dosage, they had received training to ignore that protocol in favor of an extremely dangerous set of informal guidelines: 500 milligrams of ketamine for” large “” patients, 400 milligrams of ketamine for “medium” patients and 300 milligrams of ketamine for “small” patients, “according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit lists nearly two decades worth of cases in which black residents said Aurora police used excessive force against them, including the August 2 incident in which officials arrested four children at gunpoint after they were arrested botched a report of stolen vehicles. The city paid more than $ 4.6 million to settle some of the 27 claims listed in the lawsuit, although many cases are still ongoing.

McClain’s death, the other incidents, and the decision of several Aurora police officers to take selfies at McClain’s memorial are evidence that the department tolerates racism.

“The actions of the defendants Dittrich and Marrero, together with the APD officer Jaron Jones, in the creation and distribution of smiling photos of themselves stalking the Chokehold who killed Elijah at the site of his murder by APD officers, show that simple APD – Officers act on the assumption that their colleagues will tolerate or approve of racist behavior, ”the lawsuit said.

Lawyers also point to data showing that Aurora police use excessive force against black people. Almost half of the people Aurora police used violence against in 2019 were black, although blacks make up 16% of the city’s population.

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