Impartial investigation into Elijah McClain case accuses Aurora cops and medics of wrongdoing and that the interior investigation into the incident was suspicious
An independent investigation into the fatal arrest of 23-year-old Elijah McClain in Aurora, Colorado in 2019 found that police used force against the young man for no reason and that paramedics who were later on the scene gave him ketamine a ” exaggerated assessment of its size “.
The investigation was commissioned by the city of Aurora and its results were released on Monday, reports 9News.
McClain, a massage therapist and self-taught violin player, walked out of a supermarket in August 2019 when police responded to an 911 call that made someone “looked sketchy”, pinned him to the ground and put a stranglehold on him. According to a civil lawsuit filed by his family, the 140-pound McClain was once captured on body camera footage and the police asked, “Why are you attacking me?” Medics who were later on site injected him with 500 milligrams of ketamine, causing McClain to go into cardiac arrest and receive life support before dying in the hospital.
Though the independent report of the troubling series of events ends only with recommendations for department-level policy review, its findings paint a damned picture of the conduct of the officers and paramedics who detained McClain.
The report notes that neither the 911 caller who started the events nor the officers who responded “have articulated a crime they believed Mr. McClain to have committed has or would commit ”.
Even so, and McClain, who gave officers his name and said he was about to go home, the cops put him in a stranglehold – actions the investigation found were not warranted.
The story goes on
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“Based on the records available to the panel, we could not find sufficient evidence that Mr McClain was armed and dangerous to warrant a pat-down search,” the report said. “The panel also notes that an official’s statement that Aurora officials are trained to take action before they escalate does not meet the constitutional requirements of a reasoned suspicion of conduct (stop or search).”
The 5-foot-7, 140-pound McClain was given ketamine, which the panel found would have been suitable for a man weighing 190 pounds.
“Aurora Fire appears to have accepted the officials’ impression that Mr McClain caused the delirium without substantiating that impression by meaningful observations or diagnostic tests by Mr McClain,” the report said.
“In addition, EMS administered a dose of ketamine based on a grossly inaccurate and inflated estimate of Mr. McClain’s height. Higher doses can put a higher risk of sedation complications, for which this team was clearly unprepared. “
Essentially, police officers received a vague 911 call, then jumped on and choked a young, unarmed black man in response. Then medical professionals came on site and injected this young man with 500 milligrams of ketamine – apparently on the assumption that he was larger than life and without examining him.
“Research shows that factors such as increased perceptions of threats, perceptions of exceptional strength, perceptions of higher pain tolerance, and misperceptions of age and height may all indicate a bias,” the research added.
But that’s not all. According to 9News, the report also casts serious doubts on the validity of the criminal investigation into McClain’s death being conducted by – who else? – the Aurora Police Department. Last year, a district attorney said the investigation had found no evidence that officials who brutalized McClain were breaking the law.
“Interviews conducted by serious crime investigators did not ask the fundamental, critical questions about the justification of the use of force that a prosecutor needs to determine whether the use of force is legally justified,” the report said. “Instead, the questions were often designed to evoke a certain exonerating ‘magic language’ found in court judgments.”
In addition, the report on serious crimes submitted to the District Attorney, on which the Force Review Board relied, “did not contain a neutral, objective version of the facts and seemingly ignored evidence to the contrary,” according to the report.
The report ends with a recommendation to the police department and EMS to review their policy, training and monitoring practices. Basically, this means that the results will not present serious consequences for the culprits. At least for now.
Colorado prosecutor Phil Weiser is currently re-examining the McClain case and opened a grand jury to investigate last month.
And the McClain family’s federal lawsuit against the city of Aurora, several police officers, a medic, and the director of Aurora Fire Rescue continues.
McClain’s mother, Sheeneen McClain, said in a statement Monday that the results of the city-commissioned investigation “are based on evidence Aurora had in her possession all along.”
“Aurora is responsible for Elijah’s tragic death due to the illegal and irresponsible actions of its employees,” she said. “Yet at every stage, Aurora has defended its officers for their obviously illegal actions and refused to discipline anyone involved in Elijah’s death.”
The officers who contacted McClain first – Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt, and Randy Roedema – remain with the Aurora Police Department.
Aurora City Council convened a meeting tonight to discuss the results of the investigation.