Aurora Officers Fired After Taking Photos Mocking Elijah McClain's Death

by Madison Vanderberg
Justice For Elijah McClain/Instagram

Four Aurora, Colorado officers are no longer on the police force after photos showing them mocking McClain’s death have come to light

Three Aurora, Colorado police officers have been fired and one has resigned after photos showing them mocking the death of Elijah McClain — a 23-year-old Black man who died at the hands of Aurora, Colorado police in August 2019 — have surfaced. While McClain’s death is still under investigation, and the officers who were actually involved in his death have not been fired, the officers involved in this photo scandal are no longer with the police force.

Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson announced on July 3, 2020, that officers Erica Marrero, Kyle Dittrich, and Jason Rosenblatt were terminated on Friday, while officer Jaron Jones resigned on Tuesday before his disciplinary hearing. According to Police Chief Wilson, officers Marrero, Dittrich, and Jones posed for photos on October 20, 2019, near an Elijah McClain memorial site, and in the photos, the three officers are smiling while “reenacting a carotid control hold,” which was the same control hold used on McClain that led to his death.

Per CNN, the three officers in the photo sent the images to Rosenblatt — who was involved in McClain’s death. When Rosenblatt received the text with the images, he wrote back “ha ha.” In disciplinary hearings, the three officers claim they sent the photo to “cheer up” Rosenblatt and Rosenblatt claims he texted back “ha ha” because he was “nervous.”

The officer who suggested he put his arm around the other officer’s neck to mimic the carotid hold did not deny the act or try to explain it away and said “I realized afterwards that this was an incredibly, to say it was incredibly poor taste is an understatement.”

“To even think about doing such a thing is beyond, it’s beyond comprehension. It is reprehensible,” Police Chief Wilson said during a press conference on Friday. “It shows a lack of morals, values, and integrity, and a judgment that I can no longer trust to allow them to wear this badge.”

She went on to describe the situation as “a crime against humanity and decency.”

McClain died in August 2019 after being stopped by three Aurora police officers for “acting suspicious” while walking home from a grocery store. Officers said they believed McClain was reaching for an officer’s gun, so they placed him in a chokehold. McClain began vomiting and begging for his life. Officers called paramedics after he passed out, administered a dose of ketamine to sedate McClain, and he stopped breathing. McClain suffered a heart attack on the way to the hospital, and he was declared brain-dead three days later.

Other than officer Rosenblatt fired today in the photo scandal, the Aurora County DA originally decided not to bring charges against any of the officers involved (those being Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt, and Randy Roedema) in the killing of McClain. Because of this, protests have been occurring in Aurora, Colorado for several weeks — demanding that all the involved officers are fired and arrested.

An investigation into McClain’s death was announced last month. We sincerely hope justice is served.