Colorado is re-examining Elijah McClain’s death in police custody

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DENVER (AP) – The governor of Colorado on Thursday ordered the prosecutors to reopen the investigation into the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old black man who was strangled by police and killed him in the suburbs of last year. Denver has been apprehended because he was “suspicious”.

Governor Jared Polis has signed an executive order ordering State Attorney General Phil Weiser to investigate and possibly prosecute the three white officers previously acquitted after McClain’s death. McClain’s name became a battle cry during the national reckoning on racism and police brutality after the deaths of George Floyd and others.

“Elijah McClain should be alive today, and we owe his family to take this step and elevate the pursuit of justice in his name into a state interest,” Polis said in a statement.

He said he had spoken to McClain’s mother and was moved by her description of her son as a “responsible and curious child … who could inspire the darkest soul.”

Aurora police responded to a phone call about a suspicious person wearing a ski mask and waving his arms while walking down a street on August 24. The video of the police body camera shows a cop getting out of his car, approaching McClain and saying, “Stop here. Stop. Stop. … I have the right to stop you because you are suspicious. ‘

Police say McClain refused to stop walking and fought back when officers confronted him and attempted to detain him.

In the video, Officer McClain turns around and repeats, “Stop quitting.” As McClain tries to escape the officer’s grip, the officer says, “Relax, or I’ll have to change this situation.”

While other agents stop McClain, he begs them to let go and says, “You started arresting me and I stopped listening to my music.”

One of the officers put him in a stranglehold that cuts blood to the brain, something that has been banned in several places after Floyd’s death on May 25 under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer and the worldwide protests that followed.

In the video, McClain tells agents, “Let me go. I am an introvert. Please respect the limits I speak. Those words have appeared on numerous social media posts that demanded justice for McClain.

He was on the floor for 15 minutes with several officers and paramedics standing by. Paramedics gave him 500 milligrams of sedative ketamine to calm him down, and he suffered cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital. McClain was declared brain dead on August 27 and was taken three days later.

A forensic pathologist was unable to pinpoint exactly what led to his death, but said physical exertion during the confrontation likely contributed.

McClain’s younger sister, Samara McClain, told The Denver Post shortly after his death that her brother walked to a corner store to get tea for a cousin and often wore masks when he was outside because he had a blood disorder that left him with a cold became. easy.

In the video, Elijah McClain sobs as he repeatedly says to officers, “I’m just different.” Samara McClain said her brother was a massage therapist planning to go to college.

Police put the three officers on leave, but they returned to the police when prosecutor Dave Young said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute them.

“Ultimately, although I may share the general public opinion that the death of Elijah McClain could have been avoided, it is not my job to bring criminal charges on the basis of opinion, but rather on the basis of the evidence that has emerged from the investigation and applicable Colorado law, “Young said shortly before Polis ordered the reopening of the investigation.

Aurora police said interim police chief Vanessa Wilson would not comment to prevent her from interfering in the investigation.

Mari Newman, the McClain family lawyer, said she was happy with the governor’s decision.

“It is clear that Aurora does not intend to take responsibility for the murder of an innocent young man,” she said. “Her whole attempt is to defend her cruelty at all costs, and to lie to the public that it should serve. It’s time for a responsible adult. ‘

The Colorado attorney general said in a statement that the investigation will be thorough and “worthy of public confidence in the criminal justice system.”

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