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Elijah McClain and Aurora, Colorado family agree to record $ 15 million settlement following deadly confrontation with police

Officials in Aurora, Colo. Agreed to pay Elijah McClain’s family $ 15 million to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit over his death in 2019, which followed a violent confrontation with police, lawyers representing his family said on Friday.

The agreement is the largest police settlement in the city’s history, possibly the largest in Colorado history, and one of the largest on record in the United States.

He was reached in federal court on Friday, NBC affiliate KUSA of Denver reported.

Confirming the figure, the Denver law firm representing Sheneen McClain said in a statement, “No amount of money will ever bring Elijah back to his mother. Ms. McClain would return every penny for one more day with her son.”

The company, Rathod Mohamedbhai, said an upcoming award hearing will determine how much share goes to McClain, who she says raised Elijah, and how much goes to her father, LeWayne Mosley.

In a statement released by his lawyer on Friday, Mosley said the settlement would not make up for his loss, but said: “I hope this sends a message to police around the world that there are consequences for their lives. actions “.

McClain’s family filed a federal lawsuit in August 2020 naming the city, accusing several police officers, two paramedics and a firefighter medical director of violating the civil rights of the 23-year-old black man.

According to KUSA, once McClain withdraws the defendants from the lawsuit, the city will make its payment to the court registry. The registry will then hold the funds until the allocation is determined.

McClain was arrested by authorities on August 24, 2019. Police placed him in a strangulation and handcuffed him before an Aurora paramedic injected him with ketamine, according to an independent investigation launched by the city. .

Elijah McClain’s mother Sheneen McClain in her attorney’s office on March 3, 2021, in Denver.David Zalubowski / AP folder

“Elijah was listening to music, enjoying the short walk to the corner store with iced tea when police in Aurora caught, attacked and assaulted him,” the lawsuit said.

“Within eighteen minutes, the defendants subjected Elijah to a procession of unnecessary and brutal force techniques and unnecessary and recklessly administered drugs, the combined effects of which he could not survive,” said the trial.

McClain was removed from the resuscitation system and died a few days later on August 30.

McClain’s death sparked national interest in light of George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis, as millions of Americans protested against police brutality and systemic racism.

The settlement with McClain’s family is among the highest on record and comparable to other recent high-profile deaths of blacks who have died during interactions with police.

In September 2020, the city of Louisville, Ky., Struck a $ 12 million deal with Breonna Taylor’s family six months after she was killed in her home in a drug raid.

The bylaw did not force the city to admit any wrongdoing.

In March, the city of Minneapolis agreed to pay $ 27 million to settle a civil lawsuit with the family of George Floyd, a record payment for the city.

In the summer of 2020, Colorado became the first state to end so-called “qualified immunity,” a legal principle that generally protects police and other government employees from being held personally responsible in court. civil.

In February, an independent investigation found that Colorado police and paramedics arrested McClain made a series of crucial mistakes which culminated in the young man’s death.

Police in Aurora had no justification for arresting or using force to detain McClain, and paramedics sedated him with ketamine “without doing anything more than a brief visual observation” of him, according to a panel of medical and legal experts, appointed by the city council. , who commissioned the report.

McClain’s initial arraignment was questionable, as “none of the officers articulated a crime they believed Mr. McClain had committed, was committing or was about to commit,” according to the report.

“This decision had ramifications for the rest of the meeting,” according to the findings.

Authorities said they believed he was in a state of excited delirium and posed a threat to officers.

“Based on the record available to the panel, we were not able to identify sufficient evidence that Mr. McClain was armed and dangerous to warrant a pat-down search,” the report said. The panel also notes that an officer’s explanation that Aurora operatives are trained to ‘take action before it escalates’ does not meet the constitutional requirement of reasonable suspicion of driving (a stop or a search). “

The 5-foot-7, 140-pound McClain was given a dose of ketamine that would have been appropriate for a man weighing 190 pounds, the panel found.

“Aurora Fire appears to have accepted officers’ impression that Mr. McClain had aroused delirium without corroborating that impression with significant observations or a diagnostic examination of Mr. McClain,” the report said.

“In addition, EMS administered a dose of ketamine based on a grossly inaccurate and exaggerated estimate of Mr. McClain’s height,” the report said. “Higher doses may lead to a higher risk of sedation complications, for which this team was clearly not prepared.”

Elijah McClain was a 23-year-old massage therapist who played the violin. McClain was in hospital after being forcibly detained by Aurora police in August 2019. He later died.Courtesy of Sheneen McClain

The report stopped short of blaming “implied bias” for McClain’s death.

“In reviewing this single incident, the panel does not have sufficient information to determine what role, if any, bias played in the Aurora police officers and EMS staff meeting with McClain,” according to the experts appointed by the city.

“However, research indicates that factors such as increased perception of threat, perception of extraordinary strength, perception of higher pain tolerance, and misperceptions of age and height may be indicative of a bias, “the report says.

Earlier, Aurora Fire and Emergency Medical Services said a preliminary examination found that medics’ actions the night police arrested McClain were “consistent and aligned with our established protocols.”

Family lawyer Mari Newman said the report supported the complainant’s claims.

“This is a top-down sweep of the city of Aurora, starting with the illegal stopping that set the wheels in motion and illegal driving every step of the way,” Newman told NBC News.

Elijah McClain and Aurora, Colorado family agree to record $ 15 million settlement following deadly confrontation with police

The report also criticized city law enforcement long after McClain’s death.

The department’s homicide unit “did not ask fundamental and critical questions about the rationale for the use of force,” and the Force Review Board’s review was “superficial and sketchy at best,” according to the report. The incident was not even examined by internal affairs, the panel said.

“Without a detailed examination of the rationale for the use of force throughout the incident, important opportunities to identify problems and reform practices were lost,” the report said.

An autopsy failed to identify the specific cause of McClain’s death, according to KUSA reports.

But five people, including two police officers, a former officer and two paramedics were charged in September in connection with McClain’s detention and death, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said.

The five accused were each charged with one count of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

McClain’s father Mosley said he cried tears of joy upon learning of the indictment.

“Nothing will bring my son back, but I am grateful that his killers are finally held to account,” Mosley said in a statement.

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