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Colorado Governor’s Office Looks into Death of a 23-Year-Old Black Man Who Died in Police Custody

"He was an angel among humans."

Colorado governor’s office is investigating the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who died in police custody in 2019.

What We Know:

  • McClain was stopped by three white officers on August 24, 2019 while he was walking home from a convenience store. Someone called 911 and described McClain as someone who was a “suspicious person”. McClain resisted officer contact because he was an introvert as heard on the officers’ body cameras.
  • The body cam video shows McClain telling the officers he was trying to stop his music so he could hear them better and they began to arrest him. One of the officers wrestled him to the ground as another one said, “He just grabbed your gun, dude.” One of the officers placed McClain in a chokehold when he lost consciousness briefly and began to struggle again. He was administered ketamine when the paramedics arrived. McClain suffered a heart attack in the ambulance and was pronounced brain dead three days later.

  • In February 2020, a police review determined the force of the altercation was within policy and consistent with training. The officers involved in the incident were placed on administrative leave but after prosecutors did not file charges, they were reinstated.
  • The case of McClain’s death did not come to light until over 2 million people petitioned to have his case looked at on social media. Dave Young, the Adams County district attorney was asked if the petitions on social media would convince him to make a new case. Young says, “We’ve got to have the evidence … so the petitions, the emails, the voicemails and Facebook attacks to me, my family, everyone else expressing their opinions … is not evidence.”
  • According to CNN, the city of Aurora will be doing their own investigation. They wrote in an email to CNN, “The mayor, City Council and city manager are working to initiate a new independent, external review of the actions of police, firefighters, and paramedics in the Elijah McClain case. We are considering a team of experts from across the country to be involved and provide insight from different perspectives, but the exact participants have not been selected yet.”

McClain was described as “an angel among humans”. Gov. Polis signed a new police accountability legislation on Friday, The Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity Act. The new legislation mandates body camera, requires public reporting on policy, prevents rehiring of “bad actors,” holds individual officers liable for their actions, restricts the use of chemical agents and projectiles, and establishes that officers can only use deadly force when there is an imminent risk of danger to human life if apprehension is delayed.

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Kenne Lewis is a Digital Intern at Black News Alerts from Detroit, MI but currently residing in Atlanta, GA. She has B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and is currently pursuing her Master's degree in New Media Journalism.

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