Elijah McClain was walking home from the convenience store carrying a bottle of iced tea last August when three police officers tackled him to the ground. The 23-year-old massage therapist from Aurora, Colorado—described as "nothing but positive" by his cousin, "sweet” by his sister, and "an introvert who sought peace in his life" by his mother—was put in a stranglehold by the cops and injected with ketamine. He died six days later.
Earlier that evening, a 911 caller had allegedly reported McClain as a “suspicious person” in a ski mask, which his sister later told The Denver Post he wore because he “had anemia and would sometimes get cold.”
#JusticeforElijahMcClain This gentle young man was killed by Aurora Police in Colorado less than a year ago. The officers have not been charged for taking his life. Elijah was a 23 year old massage therapist. He taught himself to play violin and guitar. On his lunch breaks from work he would sometimes bring his guitar and play music for the animals in the pet shop. Elijah loved running. He ran in barefoot running shoes because he believed they are more natural for humans to wear. He was anemic and wore a runners mask to stay warm. Content warning for violent description. On the night he was killed, he walked to the store wearing his running mask to buy iced tea for his cousins. Someone called the police about “suspicious behavior.” On the audio footage released by Aurora PD you can hear Elijah crying out, “Let go of me. I’m an introvert. Please respect the boundaries that I am speaking….I can’t breathe.” Elijah was 140 lbs. Even when he was being brutally attacked he spoke with integrity. While 3 Aurora Police Dept officers violently restrained him they called Aurora Fire Dept, who injected him with ketamine. He went into cardiac arrest and his family was advised to take him off life support 6 days later. Please share his story. Demand justice for Elijah— email Aurora representative, sign the petition demanding justice, donate to the McClain family. @justiceforelijahmcclain https://linktr.ee/Justiceforelijahmcclain Support his family’s GoFundMe page here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/elijah-mcclain #sayhisname #justiceforelijah #elijahmcclain #saytheirnames5280 #blm5280
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The Aurora Police Department officers who confronted McClain—Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt, and Randy Roedema—reportedly used a "carotid pressure hold," to restrain him, a controversial method "designed to immobilize a suspect by blocking the neck artery and, by extension, the flow of blood to the brain," according to NBC News.
In bodycam footage posted to YouTube by the Aurora Police Department, one officer accuses McClain of reaching for his gun. McClain tells the officers he is unarmed, and just trying to get home.
These were some of his last words:
"I can’t breathe. I have my ID right here... My name is Elijah McClain. That’s my house. I was just going home. I’m an introvert. I’m just different. That’s all. I’m so sorry. I have no gun. I don’t do that stuff. I don’t do any fighting. Why are you attacking me? I don’t even kill flies. I don’t eat meat. But I don’t judge people, I don’t judge people who do eat meat. Forgive me. All I was trying to do was become better... I will do it... I will do anything. Sacrifice my identity, I’ll do it. I'll do it. You all are phenomenal. You are beautiful and I love you. Try to forgive me. I’m a mood Gemini. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Ow, that really hurt. You are all very strong. Teamwork makes the dream work."
In the video, McClain can be heard sobbing, vomiting, and then saying: "Oh, I’m sorry I wasn’t trying to do that. I just can’t breathe correctly.”
One of officers threatened to bring a police dog over to him and bite him for “messing around.”
In a statement to ELLE.com, Mari Newman, an attorney for McClain’s family, called the Aurora Police's treatment of McClain "sadistic, brutalizing and terrorizing."
His father, LaWayne Mosley, released a statement to ELLE.com through Newman: “Police officers are supposed to serve and protect," he said. "My son never hurt a soul in his life, but they murdered him for no reason.”
His mother, Sheneen McClain, said this via Newman: “I miss him every day. He brought joy to everyone who met him. The world is a darker place without him.”
An Aurora Fire Rescue medic administered McClain 500 milligrams of ketamine in an effort to sedate him, District Attorney Dave Young said in a letter to Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz obtained by The Sentinel Colorado.
McClain reportedly went into cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital and was taken off of life support after he was declared brain dead.
#Repost @lexi_actually @download.ins --- 15 minutes. Elijah McClain was restrains by officers in Aurora, Co on Aug. 24th. He died of “unknown causes” on Aug. 30th after being declared brain dead, he passed away. McClain was walking down the street when a person called the police stating he was a suspicious man who was wearing a ski mask and “flailing” his arms around, his friends say he was probably just dancing. When police arrived McClain initially didn’t stop, which could have been because he had earbuds in and he couldn’t hear. Reports show that he was compliant with the police and that he never resisted. The police took him into a Carotid choke hold, which in most states is illegal, however in Co is not one of those states. For those that don’t know, this choke hold quickly cuts off blood flow and causes the victim to fall unconscious quickly. Elijah begged officers to get off of him. He stated he couldn’t breathe multiple times. He even complimented the officers saying “you are all phenomenal. You are beautiful. I love you” he even cracked a few jokes in saying “team work makes the dream work” he stated multiple times he was trying to do what they wanted him to but couldn’t because of difficulty breathing. He proceeded to vomit and sob profusely before EMTs arrived and gave him ketamine as a means to sedate him. Elijah was unarmed. Elijah had anemia. Elijah was just out of his house and was trying to go back home. Elijah’s death was sweeped under the rug until George Floyd’s death. There needs to be justice for Elijah. Aurora is about 5-6 hours away from where I live. This happened in August of 2019. I personally am just hearing about Elijah and his story. I’ve said it multiple times, Black people should NOT be afraid to leave their house. They should NOT have to be afraid of being themselves. They should NOT BE AFRAID OF LIVING. Just because BLM movement has died down amongst influential platforms does not mean that the fighting and movement is over. SHOUT THEIR NAMES. EDIT‼️ out of respect I did not share his hospital photos! #blmmovement #elijahmcclain
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In a coroner’s report obtained by The Sentinel Colorado, Forensic Pathology Consultant Dr. Stephen Cina wrote that he was unable to determine McClain's cause of death. Cina said that "the manner of death may be accident if it was an idiosyncratic drug reaction. It may be natural if [McClain] had an undiagnosed mental illness that led to excited delirium, if his intense physical exertion combined with a narrow coronary artery led to an arrhythmia, if he had an asthma attack, or if he aspirated vomit while restrained.”
Cina also wrote that McClain's death "may be a homicide if the actions of officers led to his death (e.g. carotid control hold led to stimulation of the carotid sinus resulting in an arrhythmia)."
The officers who detained McClain were initially placed on administrative leave, but have all since been reinstated. They did not face any criminal charges. The city of Aurora has since banned the controversial carotid hold and, according to The New York Times, "jettisoned an outside investigator—who had been hired to look into the killing—because he was a former police officer."
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has appointed a special prosecutor to "determine whether the facts justify criminal charges against members of law enforcement" involved in the arrest.
"Elijah McClain should be alive today, and we owe it to his family to take this step and elevate the pursuit of justice in his name to a statewide concern," Polis said in a statement posted to Twitter. "Now more than ever, we must do something within our power to foster public trust and confidence in law enforcement and the criminal justice system."
Today I signed an Executive Order designating Attorney General Phil Weiser to investigate and, if the facts support prosecution, criminally prosecute any individuals whose actions caused the death of Elijah McClain.
Executive Order: https://t.co/efmVp0mhGS
Statement below: pic.twitter.com/M5q14GoHPE
— Governor Jared Polis (@GovofCO) June 25, 2020
McClain’s case is receiving renewed attention on social media with the hashtag #JusticeForElijahMcClain since the police killing of George Floyd last month convulsed the country, sparking fresh scrutiny of old cases involving police brutality. More than 2.2 million people have now signed this petition demanding all officers involved in McClain's death to be taken off duty.
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