A state attorney general has been appointed to the case
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Thursday appointed a special prosecutor to reinvestigate the circumstances that led to the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man killed during an arrest by Aurora police last August. He also put into legislation the Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity Act mandating body cameras, public reporting on policing, preventing rehiring what he calls “bad actors,” and requiring that officers only use deadly force when an “imminent risk of danger to human life” is present.
“Elijah McClain should be alive today, and we owe it to his family to take this step and elevate the pursuit of justice in his name to a statewide concern,” Polis said in a statement announcing the new investigation.
Polis also said that, although the state government “rarely steps in to investigate, and potentially prosecute, an incident over the individual decisions of district attorneys,” McClain’s case is “truly exceptional.”
Today I signed an Executive Order designating Attorney General Phil Weiser to investigate and, if the facts support prosecution, criminally prosecute any individuals whose actions caused the death of Elijah McClain.
— Governor Jared Polis (@GovofCO) June 25, 2020
After millions demanded justice in the death of McClain, Gov. Jared Polis announced he was appointing a state attorney general to reexamine the case. McClain, 23, died in 2019 after being stopped by three Aurora police officers while walking home from a grocery store for “acting suspicious.” 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.
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*TRIGGER WARNING: violence/murder and a graphic image on slide 8.* DEMAND JUSTICE FOR ELIJAH. Link in my bio with Aurora officials’ numbers you can call, a GoFundMe for Elijah’s mother, and a petition to sign. Slide 2: Elijah’s last words, spoken as police tortured him and held him in a carotid choke hold (transcribed from bodycam footage) Slides 3-5: what happened to Elijah Slide 6: Elijah playing the violin for cats at the pet shop next door on his lunch break. He believed the music put them at ease Slide 7: sign at #blackout2020 in Aurora on 6/6/20, a demonstration to demand justice for Elijah and others. Slide 8: TRIGGER WARNING⚠️ Elijah in hospital following the police attack Slide 9: painting of Elijah surrounded by some of his favourite things or things that represent him, by @mattymillerstudio Slide 10: recent news regarding the investigation. – I recently saw this first video on Twitter along with a few words about #elijahmcclain, who was murdered by AURORA POLICE in August 2019, and since then I haven’t been able to get him and his case out of my mind. It’s so obvious from this video that Elijah was a sweet, gentle, innocent soul with a personality that radiates positive energy. When I started to read more about him, this became even more clear. He was a massage therapist and a self-taught violinist. Friends and family described him as “a spiritual seeker, pacifist, oddball, vegetarian, athlete, and peacemaker who was exceedingly gentle”. Every person who dies at the hands of police deserves justice, whether they are a great person or a terrible one. But the fact that Elijah was seemingly an angel on earth who wouldn’t even hurt a fly (this is actually something he TOLD officers as they attacked him) makes his case extra heartbreaking. Your voice matters: Elijah’s case didn’t get much publicity for the first 8 months after his death, but now people are finally talking about it. Because of this, progress is being made. Police departments are making new rules and a new investigation is being launched for Elijah. But we cannot stop talking about Elijah, and others who suffered a similar fate, until justice is served and the system is changed.
Friends and family described McClain as “a spiritual seeker, pacifist, oddball, vegetarian, athlete, and peacemaker who was exceedingly gentle.”
Mari Newman, the McClain family attorney, said in the petition that McClain “is laying on the ground vomiting, he is begging, he is saying, ‘I can’t breathe.'”
Newman also questioned why this is finally being looked at now. “Why did it take almost a year, international media attention, millions of people signing a petition for a responsible adult to finally step up and do what should have happened right from the outset?” she said.
Initially after the mass public scrutiny, district attorney Dave Young said, per Colorado Politics,”I don’t open up investigations based on petitions.” In response to McClain’s death and not prosecuting the officers involved, he said, “I’m not here to condone their actions — in fact, I disagree with what they did on the night of August 24, 2019. But the forensic autopsy report could not determine McClain’s cause of death.”
It seems that mindset has changed.
“Widely reported facts are not addressed in any current investigation,” Polis said. “These omissions merit a supplemental evaluation of the case by an independent prosecutor and thus warrant this executive order.”
The Aurora district attorney declined to file charges against officers who stopped McClain — Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt, and Randy Roedema — and they were reinstated to the force just three months after his death.
“I can’t breathe. I have my ID right here. My name is Elijah McClain,” McClain can be heard saying in the officer’s video. “That’s my house. I was just going home. I’m an introvert. I’m just different. That’s all. I’m so sorry.”