After two years, three officers and two paramedics have been charged in Elijah McClain’s 2019 death
On the night of August 24, 2019, Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man, was walking home from a local convenience store in Aurora, Colorado, when police officers physically apprehended Elijah with a chokehold, and paramedics on the scene sedated him with 500 milligrams of ketamine that caused him to suffer two heart attacks and ultimately led to his death less than a week later. After more than a year of investigations, petitions, and calls for justice, finally, three police officers and two paramedics have been charged with McClain’s death.
True justice would be that McClain is still alive, but almost two years to the day of his tragic murder, charges have been handed down. Attorney General Phil Weiser announced the 32-count indictment (via The New York Times) on Wednesday, September 1, 2021.
“Our goal is to seek justice for Elijah McClain, for his family and friends, and for our state,” Mr. Weiser said at a news conference announcing the charges. “We’re here today because Elijah McClain is not here, and he should be. When he died he was only 23 years old. He had his whole life ahead of him and his family and his friends must now go on and must live without him.”
The officers and paramedics will each face one charge of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide along with a variety of assault charges.
In the wake of Elijah’s death in 2019, no charges were brought against the officers because the police department claimed there was no evidence to prove the officers caused McClain’s death or whether he died from natural causes. Reportedly, the officers claimed the amount of force was warranted due to McClain’s “superior strength.” Per CNN, Mr. Weiser opened his investigation in January of 2021 and proved there was more than enough evidence to convict. His report was 157 pages long and effectively called bullshit on the entire police department.
McClain was never suspected of any specific crime in connection with the incident, and he was unarmed. Per The New York Times, McClain was described by friends and family as a “gentle person who loved animals and taught himself to play the violin.” His death has been marked by protests, petitions, and calls for justice. He is survived by his mother Sheneen, who revealed on Wednesday, via her lawyer that she is “overwhelmed by the developments into the murder of her son, and she appreciates the hard work of Phil Weiser and his staff.”
We are far from the police reform and/or abolitionist measures needed to ensure that police stop killing Black men and women in the United States, but since Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd, many hope that today’s charges will continue to send a message to officers that they are not above the law.