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City Council launches independent investigation into Elijah McClain’s death

The Aurora City Council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution calling for an independent investigation into the 23-year-old’s death.

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On Monday (July 20) the city council in Aurora, Colorado voted unanimously to adopt a resolution calling for an independent investigation into Elijah McClain’s death. Executive Director of the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs Jonathan Smith will lead an investigation team of at least six people, CBS Denver reports.

According to the outlet, the third-party investigation will not be responsible for bringing charges against the officials involved in McClain’s death. Instead, the team will review policies regarding calls for service and medical assistance, ketamine use, police contact with suspects, use of police force and administrative incident reviews. After the investigation, the team will issue a written recommendation to the Aurora City Council with new policy recommendations for the city’s police, EMT and fire departments.

McClain died in 2019 after being restrained by police and dosed with ketamine by paramedics. Responding to a call about a suspicious person, police restrained the 23-year-old Black man in a chokehold and he became unconscious. Paramedics later injected McClain with ketamine and he suffered a heart attack in an ambulance and died three days later

The city council’s new resolution arrives after Colorado Gov. Jared Polis appointed a special prosecutor to examine the case of McClain’s death. The Department of Justice is also reviewing the case for a potential civil rights investigation.

The three police officers involved in McClain’s death were taken off patrol duty in June and one of them, along with two others, was fired for taking mocking photos reenacting the chokehold used on McClain. Ex-officer Jaron Jones also resigned over his involvement in the photos.

“[Ex-officer Jason] Rosenblatt got fired not for killing Elijah, not for murdering Elijah, but for making fun of Elijah,” community organizer and McClain family friend Terrence Roberts said to the Associated Press. “That is the culture that we’re fighting, where a police officer can murder a Black man, a Black child, and keep his job and stay on the force so he can go make fun of this child.”

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