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State health department reopens ketamine investigation in Elijah McClain case

McClain died in 2019 after being restrained by police and dosed with ketamine by paramedics. 

Elijah McClain Instagram

A spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) says that they have opened a new investigation into the administering of ketamine during Elijah McClain’s deadly arrest, reports KDVR.

“The department received numerous complaints, beginning on June 24, 2020, that provided additional information regarding a ketamine administration in August 2019. The department launched a complaint investigation which is currently ongoing,” said Peter Myers, a representative for the CDPHE.

Back in June, CDPHE previously said that there would “not be any additional investigation” into the ketamine usage on McClain as there “were no findings that would support an action against the provider’s certificate.”

On August 24, 2019, 23-year-old McClain 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 say they told McClain to “stop,” but he didn’t and the officers began to get physical with him. He was reportedly placed in a chokehold and held on the ground for 15 minutes. He 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.

The City Council is also conducting an independent investigation into his death. The third-party investigation will not be responsible for bringing any charges against the officers involved. Instead, the group will review policies regarding ketamine use, calls for service and medical assistance, administrative incident reviews, police contact with suspects and use of police force.

After the investigation concludes, the team will send a written notice to the Aurora City Council with new policy recommendations for the city’s police, EMT and fire departments.

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