Colorado officials quietly ruled in 2021 that Elijah McClain, an unarmed black man who died in a violent arrest in 2019, perished from a ketamine injection by paramedics at the scene, documents show recently. published.
Three Aurora Police Department officers and two paramedics face charges related to the arrest, although it’s unclear how the case will play out, as the Adams County coroner ruled in July as part of a grand jury inquest that the manner of death remains “undetermined.” Colorado Public Radio reports. Originally, a 2019 autopsy considered both the cause and circumstances of McClain’s death “undetermined.”
Police encountered McClain in August 2019 while responding to a call about a suspicious person. McClain, an autistic musician and massage therapist, was not wanted for any crime, but police believed the young man fit the description on the call.
At the time of his arrest, he was wearing a ski mask which his family say was used to prevent the anemic 23-year-old from getting chills. McClain had headphones on and did not respond to calls from police, who put him in a cartoid chokehold. He cried, vomited and asked the police to respect his limits.
Just under a year before George Floyd was killed in similar circumstances in Minneapolis, McClain told officers, ‘I can’t breathe,’ the same dying words Floyd used that have become a rallying cry throughout the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020.
Paramedics on the scene ultimately decided that McClain suffered from “excited delirium,” a highly controversial diagnosis that police say often justifies the use of force, even though many medical experts doubt his credibility.
First responders injected McClain with a high dose of ketamine, a powerful anesthetic, and he lost consciousness while strapped to a stretcher and was declared brain dead three days later.
In September, officers Randy Roedema, Nathan Woodyard and Jason Rosenblatt, and paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec were charged with offenses including criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter after Governor Jared Polis appointed a special prosecutor to investigate McClain’s death.
First responders will enter their pleas in the case in November.
Last fall, the city of Aurora agreed to pay McClain’s family a $15 million settlement to end a civil rights lawsuit.
The Independent Gt