Almost two million people have signed a petition demanding justice for the late Elijah McClain. On August 24, 2019, the 23-year-old was walking home from a store run at night in Aurora, Colorado. He was wearing a ski mask because he was anemic, according to his family, and needed to keep warm. Someone called the police saying they spotted a “suspicious man” and the officers quickly arrived.
Police claim they told McClain to “stop,” but he didn’t and officers began to get physical with him. He was allegedly placed in a chokehold and held on the ground for 15 minutes. He reportedly vomited and yelled out “I can’t breathe” as he was restrained. Aurora paramedics were called to assist and injected McClain with Ketamine, while he was already unconscious. He went into cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital and fell into a coma. A few days later, he was taken off life support and died.
Earlier this year, the officers were cleared from any wrongdoing in his death. McClain’s family issued a statement saying that they are “disappointed, but not surprised, that once again, Aurora has condoned its officers’ killing of an unarmed Black man.”
The city is now working to form an independent review of McClain’s death. “The City Council and City Manager are working together to identify a new independent review of the city’s response in the Elijah McClain case,” Michael Bryant, Aurora’s interim manager of communications, wrote in an email to 9NEWS. “Currently, we’re considering a team of experts from across the country to be involved and provide insight from different perspectives, but the exact participants have not been selected yet.
“We are committed to seeing this process move forward quickly to help restore our residents’ trust in the city and its police department,” he continued.
The Aurora Police Department has since banned carotid pressure holds and made it official that officers have to intervene if they believe colleagues are violating their department policy. Officers are also not required to make contact with someone who has been reported as suspicious, but rather see if a crime will be committed.