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Probe sparked by Elijah McClain’s death finds Aurora Police racially biased

Black people in Aurora, Colorado are arrested two times more than white people.

Aurora police department Denver Post via Getty Images

A 14-month investigation into the Aurora Police in Colorado following the death of Elijah McClain found the department is “racially biased.”

On Wednesday (Sept. 15), Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser released a report stating that the Aurora Police Department “has a pattern and practice of violating state and federal law through racially biased policing, using excessive force, and failing to record legally required information when interacting with the community.”

Investigators also found that the department used force against people of color two and a half times more than against white people. People of color in Aurora were detained by local police “1.3 times more than whites based on population percentage alone.” Black citizens were arrested nearly two times more than white community members.

“Nearly half of the individuals whom Aurora Police used force against were Black, even though Black residents make up about 15 percent of the population in Aurora,” according to the report.

The probe was conducted in direct response to the 2019 killing of McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who was walking home when he was violently apprehended by Aurora police officers in response to someone calling 911 to report a suspicious person. McClain was wearing a ski mask at the time of his arrest because he was anemic, according to his family.

The cops grabbed the young man and placed him in a carotid chokehold. Body camera footage captured McClain pleading with the officers, saying that he was non-violent and couldn't breathe. Once EMTs arrived, they injected a shot of 500 milligrams of ketamine into the man, who later suffered a heart attack in the ambulance. McClain was declared brain dead at the hospital and taken off life support a few days later.

Earlier this month, three police officers and two paramedics were indicted by a grand jury for his death. All five of the defendants face several charges, including one count each of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. Officers Randy Roedema and Nathan Woodyard and ex-cop Jason Rosenblatt were charged with second-degree assault with intent to cause bodily injury and one count of a crime of violence.

The attorney general recommended that the city enter a consent decree with the police department to require changes to policies, record-keeping and training. Aurora and the Colorado Department of Law will have two months to come to an agreement on the order.

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