Elijah McClain family files lawsuit against the City of Aurora

State

Elijah McClain

AURORA, Colo. (KDVR)—The family of Elijah McClain has filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Aurora.

McClain, 23, died nearly a year ago after an altercation with three police officers and after being sedated with ketamine.

The filing starts off with the last few words spoken by the 23 year-old McClain saying,

“I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe please. I can’t. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe, please
stop. [Groans of pain]. I have my ID right here. I have my ID right (inaudible). My
name is Elijah McClain. That’s all. That’s what I was doing. I was just going home.
I’m an introvert and I’m different. [Sobbing]. I just (inaudible). I’m just different.
I’m just different, that’s all. That’s all I was doing. I’m so sorry. I have no gun. I
don’t do that stuff. I don’t do any fighting. Why were you attacking me? I don’t do
guns. I don’t even kill flies. I don’t eat meat…. I am [ ] a vegetarian. I don’t judge
people for anything. I try to live (inaudible), and I respect all life. Forgive me. All
I was trying to do was become better…. But I’ll do it. I’ll do it. …. To help all life.
I will do (inaudible). Even if I have to sacrifice my identity. I’ll do it. I’ll do it. You
all are phenomenal. You are beautiful. [Groans of pain]. Forgive me. …. [Cry of
pain]. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. Ow. Ow, that really hurt. You guys are very strong.
Teamwork makes the dream work. [Sobbing]. Ow that hurts. (Multiple very quiet,
inaudible statements). Oh yeah I’m sorry. I wasn’t trying to do that. I can’t breathe
correctly because— [Vomiting] …. Ok, ok…I can’t sense myself. Ow! Ah! Ow!
Stop please!… I’m trying…. Please help me.”

In February, Mari Newman, a civil rights attorney who represents the family, put the city on notice that she intended to sue.

“The letter we sent to Aurora…is the first step in the formal litigation process,” Newman said in Februrary.

In the letter, she said Aurora police “aggressively contacted” McClain and “immediately and unnecessarily initiated an unjustified use of force.”

The district attorney declined to pursue charges against any of the officers who interacted with McClain, including two who said they attempted a carotid hold on McClain during the altercation.

In one instance, the officers said McClain may have temporarily lost consciousness. A coroner could not rule out the officers’ actions as possible contributors to McClain’s death.

“There was no reason to inflict any force on him at all, much less than 15 minutes of torture that was inflicted on him,” said Newman.

The filing also states, “Aurora’s custom, policy, and practice of unconstitutional racist brutality is reflected in its recent conduct as well. The City of Aurora refuses even basic accountability, having failed to fire or even discipline anyone in relation to Elijah’s death. Instead, the City has acted aggressively to lash out at and deflect those who insist on justice for Elijah. “

A paramedic also injected McClain with the sedative ketamine prior to his death. A coroner could not rule out an unexpected reaction to the drug as a possible contributor to McClain’s demise.

“Aurora killed him. There’s no two ways about it,” said Newman.

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