Gov. Jared Polis made a bold move recently that challenged Adams County District Attorney Dave Young’s decision to not press criminal charges against the police officers Elijah McClain had contact with before going into cardiac arrest and dying six days later [Source: NPR]. Polis signed an executive order allowing for the investigation relating to McClain’s death to be reopened and reevaluated. Polis made the announcement on June 25th and explained that he was designating Attorney General Phil Weiser to head the new investigation.
The executive order comes after a significant amount of media attention was dedicated to McClain’s death coupled with online petitions that received more than two million signatures. McClain, who was only 23 years old at the time of his death, was stopped by Aurora police officers after a 911 call was placed by a man named Juan who claimed McClain looked “sketchy” and that “he might be a good person or a bad person.”
Just before officers made contact with McClain, he had been walking home from a convenience store carrying a bottle of iced tea and wearing a ski mask. His family explained that he was anemic and would often wear a ski mask when he felt cold. McClain also had headphones on and was listening to music while he was walking. When the 23-year-old was confronted by officers, he “appeared to be taken aback by [their] sudden appearance.”
After officers ordered McClain to stop and began grabbing at him, he resisted and allegedly said, “I am an introvert. Please respect the boundaries that I am speaking.” After a few moments go by, officers can be seen pinning McClain down in a carotid hold. The young man eventually passed out and was later injected with Ketamine by a medic. After McClain was placed in an ambulance, he stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest. He died six days later after he was removed from life support.
NPR said that the Adams County Coroner’s Office concluded that McClain had died from “undetermined causes,” however, “it left open the possibility that the police carotid hold and Ketamine injection may have contributed to his death.”
Polis attributes his move to reopen the investigation to unreported facts that were not addressed in the previous investigation.
In Polis’ announcement, he stated that “These omissions merit a supplemental evaluation of the case by an independent prosecutor and thus warrant this Executive Order.” The Governor also said that if warranted, the officers would be faced with disciplinary action for their behavior. During the initial investigation, all three officers were cleared of any wrongdoing, however, family, friends, and supporters are hoping for a different outcome as a result of the new investigation.
If your loved one was killed by a Colorado police officer or as a result of someone else’s negligent or careless behavior, the Colorado wrongful death attorneys at Bryan & Terrill Law, PLLC are here to help you during this trying time. Whether you are seeking closure, justice, or both, the wrongful lawyers at Bryan & Terrill Law, PLLC will help you understand the legal options that are available to you.
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