Elijah McClain’s death to be the subject of a grand jury inquiry


“Under the governor’s decree, the attorney general’s office continues to conduct an independent investigation into the events of August 24, 2019 involving Elijah McClain and his subsequent death,” the statement said.

“The grand jury is an investigative tool that has the power to compel witnesses to testify and to demand the production of documents and other relevant information,” the statement said.

“Our investigation will be thorough, guided by the facts and the law, and worthy of the public’s trust. In order to maintain the impartiality and integrity of the process,” the statement said.

McClain’s death attracted renewed attention last summer after the police murders of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky. As protests grew across the country, protests in suburban Denver underscored McClain and his family’s call for justice for months.

On the night of August 24, 2019, McClain was walking home from a convenience store with iced tea when he was confronted by three police officers in Aurora, Colorado.

Police arrested him after a 911 caller reported that a suspicious person wearing a ski mask was walking along Billings Street in Aurora, according to a police press release. This report says McClain “resisted contact” with the officers before a fight ensued.

“I’m an introvert,” McClain said in police body camera footage after officers confronted him. “Please respect the boundaries I’m talking about.”

“Relax,” one officer said at one point, “or I’m going to have to change this”.

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Before an officer knocks him down, McClain is heard telling the police that he was trying to turn off his music so he can listen to them.

During the fight, an officer is heard saying, “He just grabbed your gun, man.” An officer tells McClain that he will “get my dog ​​out and bite you” if McClain continues to “mess around.”

A letter from the Adams County district attorney says an officer placed McClain in a carotid hold, which restricts blood flow to the brain. McClain briefly lost consciousness, according to the letter, but continued to struggle after officers released the hold.

The prosecutor’s letter says paramedics arrived and administered ketamine, a strong anesthetic. McClain was rushed to hospital but suffered a heart attack on the way. He was declared brain dead three days later on August 27, the letter said.

The autopsy performed by the county coroner did not determine the cause of death, but noted that “intense physical exertion and a narrow left coronary artery” were contributing factors.

The report noted McClain’s history of asthma and carotid wedge, although the autopsy did not determine whether this contributed to McClain’s death. The concentration of ketamine in his system was at a “therapeutic level,” according to the report.

In the end, McClain’s death could have been an accident, the result of natural causes or a homicide, the autopsy concluded.

McClain family attorney Mari Newman called the autopsy “very strange”. She said he “ignores the most obvious factor, which is that a perfectly healthy young man comes home from the drugstore with a bottle of iced tea in a bag and he ends up dying.”

Three officers involved were initially placed on administrative leave, but were later reinstated when prosecutors refused to file criminal charges.
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In a November 2019 letter to then-Aurora Police Chief, District Attorney Dave Young wrote that his office did not find enough evidence to prove officers broke Colorado law. or that their use of force was unjustified. A police review board said in February that the use of force, including carotid seizure, “was in accordance with policy and in accordance with training.”
Young upheld his decision not to charge the agents, but said McClain’s death was “tragic and unnecessary” and previously told CNN he did not tolerate the agents’ actions.
“I actually don’t agree with what they did on the night of August 24, 2019,” he told CNN’s Chris Cuomo in June. But he pointed to the autopsy, saying, “I can’t take a case to the jury where I don’t know what the cause of death is in a homicide case.”

But amid recent judgments over race and police brutality, some felt McClain’s death deserved a second look, and by June more than two million people had signed an online petition calling for a new investigation.

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In late June, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis called on Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser to conduct an independent investigation into McClain’s death and lay criminal charges if warranted.

“Elijah McClain should be alive today, and we owe it to his family to take this step and elevate the pursuit of justice on his behalf to a statewide concern,” Polis said. in a press release at the time.

In August, Weiser confirmed that he was conducting a separate investigation into the police service and whether its “models and practices” are unconstitutional. Additionally, the city of Aurora commissioned its own investigation of the police department, hiring an outside consultant to conduct a “full review.”

CNN’s Leslie Perrot, Madeline Holcombe, Brad Parks, Amir Vera, Caroline Kelly and Ray Sanchez contributed to this report.

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