Family of Elijah McClain Sues Aurora Police Over His Death

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Body camera footage shows Mr. McClain pleading while trying to get out of the officers’ grip. The officers eventually brought him to the ground, claiming he had reached for one of their guns while they were pinning him against a wall to handcuff him. The body camera footage does not show this, officers said, because their cameras had fallen onto the grass.

After paramedics arrived, they injected Mr. McClain with ketamine, a powerful sedative. Body camera footage shows that the injection made his body go limp when he was loaded onto a gurney. On the way to a hospital, Mr. McClain went into cardiac arrest. He died a few days later.

An autopsy report, released in November, said a combination of factors could have killed Mr. McClain. A few days later, Dave Young, the Adams County district attorney, announced that criminal charges would not be filed, saying there was not enough evidence that the officers had broken the law when they used force on Mr. McClain.

The decision angered Mr. McClain’s family, and this spring, his mother pushed lawmakers to adopt police reforms.

“We’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of Elijah’s murder, and it’s long past time to hold his killers accountable,” Ms. Newman, the lawyer, said. “We were hopeful that the city of Aurora would stand up and do what’s right and not drag this family through the incredibly difficult and heart-wrenching process of litigation. It didn’t.”

Mr. McClain’s case received renewed attention after the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died in Minneapolis on May 25 after being pinned to the ground by an officer who pressed his knee onto Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, spurring nationwide protests against systemic racism and police brutality.

In June, the Aurora Police Department announced a ban on carotid holds like the one used on Mr. McClain. Officers are also now required to report excessive force used by their colleagues, and to announce their intention to use deadly force before firing their weapon.

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