The Aurora third party investigation into Elijah McClain’s death is being conducted by a panel.

Aurora’s leaders were briefed Monday evening of the city’s ongoing efforts to conduct an independent third party investigation into the death of Elijah McClain.

Provided by McClain family

Elijah McClain

City administrator Jim Twombly said in a study meeting with Mayor Mike Coffman and members of the city council the job is too big for one person and a team is being assembled that will include both local and national members.

“We’re still in the process of getting the right people involved,” Twombly said.

A panel is currently being put together by Twombly and City Councilor Allison Hiltz. The couple expect to have the names of the candidates ready for the July 20th study session.

The panel will be chaired by someone with civil rights litigation expertise from the Department of Justice, possibly a retired judge, as well as a member with a medical background, Twombly said.

Once compiled and voted by the city council, the team will continue their work with prior reviews and investigations to make recommendations and changes to policies, guidelines and training for police and fire departments. It won’t be a criminal investigation.

“As far as the scope is concerned, we are striving for independence,” said Hiltz. “We will look for recommendations that the committee will make to change our practices and make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

On June 10, Aurora City officials canceled a third-party investigation into McClain’s death when councilors raised concerns that a former police officer had been hired for the job.

McClain, a 23-year-old black man, was stopped by police in August after a phone call about a suspect. In a violent fight, police used a carotid choke handle on McClain and was given a dose of ketamine. He later died in a local hospital.

In November, District Attorney Dave Young announced that there would be no criminal charges against the Aurora officers involved in McClain’s death.

The incident has received national attention and is being investigated by the US Department of Justice and the Colorado Attorney General.

On Friday, Aurora’s interim police chief fired two officers who posed for a photo recreating a stranglehold on the site of Elijah McClain’s arrest, and ended a third officer who received the mocking picture. Another official involved in the photo scandal resigned on Tuesday.

The city council also heard a presentation on Monday evening on police banning the use of chokeholds and carotid holds. Aurora Police, following McClain’s deaths and the deaths of George Floyd, banned the use of carotid handles by officials. The city is considering writing such a ban in the city code.

On July 16, just before the city council’s study session on July 20, a presentation about the third party investigation will be given to the city’s public safety committee.

“It is important that the entire council has a say,” said Hiltz. “We are really determined to have a discussion in the council about it.”

McClain’s death has become a national and local focus in ongoing calls for police reform. Rallies were held in Aurora and elsewhere in the country demanding justice for his death.

“This is a time-sensitive issue,” said Coffman. “The church wants closure, we want closure. The earlier this is on site, the more it will be appreciated by many. “

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