3 police officers have been fired over a photo in which cops took a selfie reenacting the chokehold used on Elijah McClain

kmclaughlin@businessinsider.com (Kelly McLaughlin)
Elijah McClain, a Black man who died days after he was subdued by three policemen and injected with a powerful sedative in August 2019, poses in an undated photograph in Aurora, Colorado.
Elijah McClain, a Black man who died days after he was subdued by three policemen and injected with a powerful sedative in August 2019, poses in an undated photograph in Aurora, Colorado.

Family photo/Handout via REUTERS

  • Three Aurora, Colorado, police officers have been fired over a photograph that was taken near a memorial for 23-year-old Elijah McClain last year. 

  • The photo featured officers Jaron Jones, Erica Marrero, and Kyle Dittrich, smiling and reenacting the chokehold that the police used on McClain before he died. 

  • The officers had sent the picture to Jason Rosenblatt, one of three officers involved in McClain's death. 

  • Interim Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson fired Marrero, Dittrich, and Rosenblatt on Friday. Jones resigned on Tuesday.

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The interim police chief in Aurora, Colorado, fired three officers over a photo in which cops from the department reenacted the chokehold used on Elijah McClain last year. 

Interim Chief Vanessa Wilson said at a press conference on Friday that the two other officers posing in the picture — Erica Marrero and Kyle Dittrich — had been fired, according to The Denver Post. One of the officers in the picture, Jaron Jones, resigned on Tuesday.

Wilson also fired Jason Rosenblatt, one of three officers involved in McMclain's death last summer, who, according to the interim police chief, had received the photo and replied, "ha ha."

Rosenblatt, Marrero, and Dittrich were previously put on leave over the photo as the Aurora Police Department conducted an investigation.

The photo was taken in October 2019, near a memorial for McClain.

Erica Marrero, Jaron Jones, and Kyle Dittrich.
Erica Marrero, Jaron Jones, and Kyle Dittrich.

Aurora Police Department

McClain, 23, died on August 30, 2019, days after police confronted him as he walked home from a convenience store. The officers were responding to a 911 call from someone describing a "suspicious black male wearing a ski mask, 'acting weird' by 'waving his arms around,'" according to the police department's incident report at the time.

During the arrest, police placed McClain in a chokehold, and a medic sedated him with the drug ketamine.

McClain's family said he was anemic and that he often wore an open-face ski mask to keep warm. They said he was listening to music when police stopped him.

"I speak for all men and women of APD we are ashamed and sickened over what we have to share with you ..., " Wilson said at a press conference announcing the firings, according to 9 News.

Wilson said the police officers who took the photos claimed they did so to "cheer up a friend."

In a statement posted on Facebook, Aurora's police union criticized the firings, saying Wilson's investigation was not thorough enough.

"It appears that interim Chief Wilson's participation in the chief selection process drove her decision making in this case," the union's board wrote. "The appearance of impropriety is obvious."

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