The parents of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who died last year after police put him in a chokehold and paramedics sedated him, have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit.
What We Know:
- The lawsuit lists the city of Aurora, Colorado, numerous Aurora police officers, a paramedic, and the medical director of Aurora Fire Rescue as the defendants. The McClain family shared that with the lawsuit, they were seeking accountability for the loss of a “beautiful soul” and wanted to send a message that “racism and brutality have no place in American law enforcement.”
- “We have filed this civil rights lawsuit to demand justice for Elijah McClain, to hold accountable the Aurora officials, police officers, and paramedics responsible for his murder, and to force the City of Aurora to change its longstanding pattern of brutal and racist policing,” the family said in a statement released by their attorney.
- On August 24, 2019, McClain was stopped by three white officers who responded to a call about a suspicious person wearing a ski mask, which McClain was due to a health condition. He was not suspected of committing any crimes when police approached him. Police put McClain in a chokehold and paramedics gave him 500 milligrams of ketamine to calm him down. McClain suffered cardiac arrest and died six days later.
- In the lawsuit, it claims that one officer jammed his knee into McClain’s arm “with the sole purpose of inflicting pain” and that two of the officers reported that all three of them simultaneously placed their body weight, a collective weight of over 700 pounds, on McClain after a chokehold.
- The lawsuit also alleges that there was no reason for McClain to be sedated with ketamine and that the dose he was given was too large for his body weight of 140 pounds. There are currently three investigations into McClain’s death underway by the federal government, state attorney general’s office, and the city of Aurora.
- The city manager and the new police chief announced last week that an outside firm was hired to conduct a review of the department, focusing on its policies and practices regarding the use of force and discriminatory policing. The City Council already began an investigation of Aurora’s policies on using force and ketamine. “We embrace this opportunity for change and are committed to evolving for the betterment of our profession, our community, and the residents we serve,” Police Chief Vanessa Wilson, who was named to the post last week, said in a statement.
- In June, three Aurora police officers were fired for taking photos at McClain’s memorial, imitating the chokehold that was used on him. Three of the officers involved in that incident are among those named in the lawsuit.
- The lawsuit comes a week after the Aurora Police faced outrage once again after they placed four Black girls on the ground and handcuffed two of them while investigating a suspected stolen car. It was later found not to be stolen. In fact, it was a motorcycle the police were looking for. This latest incident supports the McClain family’s claim that the Aurora Police Department of a longstanding pattern of racism and brutality.
None of the defendants have commented on the lawsuit.