A Colorado grand jury issued criminal charges against three police officers and two paramedics for the death of Elijah McClain. McClain was a young Black man who was put in a chokehold while walking home from a convenience store in 2019 by police in Aurora, Colorado, reported the New York Times.
Background: While restrained in a chokehold, the 23-year-old McClain, a musician and massage therapist, pleaded with police that he could not breathe, at which point the officers injected him with ketamine, a powerful anesthetic used, among other reasons, to sedate agitated patients.
McClain was unarmed and had not been suspected of committing any crime.
Aurora police officers said they were responding to a 911 call about a suspicious person.
The Grand Jury announcement, which included a 32-count indictment, was made on Wednesday by Attorney General Phil Weiser. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis had appointed Weiser as a special prosecutor in 2020 to investigate the case.
“Our goal is to seek justice for Elijah McClain, for his family and friends and for our state,” Weiser said at a news conference announcing the charges, the culmination of months of investigation, protests, and calls for justice by McClain’s family, friends and activists.
The three police officers and two paramedics involved in McClain’s death will each face one charge of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in addition to a variety of assault charges.
“We’re here today because Elijah McClain is not here, and he should be,” Weiser said.
Attorneys And Family Response
Mari Newman, a lawyer for McClain’s father, LaWayne Mosley, said that Mosley had wept when he heard the news.
“This indictment serves as a powerful reminder to all members of law enforcement that no one is above the law,” Newman said in a statement.
Qusair Mohamedbhai, a lawyer for McClain’s mother, Sheneen, offered a statement of support on Wednesday.
“Ms. McClain is overwhelmed by the developments into the murder of her son, and she appreciates the hard work of Phil Weiser and his staff,” Mohamedbhai said.
Independent Review - "Scathing Catalog Of Errors"
An independent review of McClain’s death released in February issued a scathing catalog of errors committed by the officers and paramedics during the encounter and in the investigation that followed, reported the NY Times. Prosecutors in Adams County, CO, where the crime was committed, had declined to file criminal charges against the three officers involved in McClain’s death.
Photo: Courtesy McClain family, public domain
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