An independent investigation has revealed new details in the case of Elijah McClain, stating that Colorado police and paramedics made several errors when they treated the 23-year-old Black man, who was killed in 2019 after officers responded to a call about a suspicious person in the area.
The panel of medical and legal experts appointed by the city council said the latest findings prove that police in Aurora, Colorado, had no justification to stop or use force to detain McClain, NBC News reported. Additionally, the investigators said paramedics sedated him with ketamine, “without conducting anything more than a brief visual observation.”
The report, which was revealed on Monday, questioned the initial stop, stating that “none of the officers articulated a crime that they thought Mr. McClain had committed, was committing or was about to commit.”
As Blavity previously reported, the massage therapist was choked by police while walking home from the drug store with a bottle of iced tea in a bag. The fatal confrontation happened after someone called 911, reporting McClain as a suspicious person because he was wearing a ski mask and headphones while walking down the street.
The officers, who choked him after responding to the call, said he resisted arrest and grabbed for a gun. Body camera footage, however, showed that the Colorado man did neither. Investigators have now provided more evidence to refute the police statement.
“Based on the record available to the panel, we were not able to identify sufficient evidence that Mr. McClain was armed and dangerous in order to justify a pat-down search,” the panel said. “The panel also noted that one officer’s explanation that Aurora officers are trained to ‘take action before it escalates’ does not meet the constitutional requirement of reasonable suspicion to conduct (a stop or frisk).”
The 5-foot-7, 140-pound man was also sedated with ketamine because he allegedly became aggressive after regaining consciousness.
“Aurora Fire appears to have accepted the officers’ impression that Mr. McClain had excited delirium without corroborating that impression through meaningful observations or diagnostic examination of Mr. McClain,” Monday’s report stated. “In addition, EMS administered a ketamine dosage based on a grossly inaccurate and inflated estimate of Mr. McClain’s size. Higher doses can carry a higher risk of sedation complications, for which this team was clearly not prepared.”
McClain lost consciousness and was taken off life support three days after the confrontation. His death prompted Colorado to become the first state to end the policy known as “qualified immunity,” which shields police and other government employees from being held personally responsible in civil court.
The case regained attention last summer as protesters around the nation demanded justice for George Floyd and many other Black people who have died at the hands of police. With protesters in Colorado joining the nationwide movement, attorney General Phil Weiser opened a grand jury investigation into McClain’s case.
“Elijah McClain should be alive today, and we owe it to his family to take this step and elevate the pursuit of justice in his name to a statewide concern,” Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement.