Colorado reopens case of Elijah McClain’s death in police custody
Governor Jared Polis signed an executive order on Thursday calling for state Attorney General Phil Weiser to reexamine the disturbing case.
The police killing of 23-year-old Elijah McClain is getting a fresh look after the Colorado governor directed a special prosecutor to reopen the investigation into his death.
On Thursday, Governor Jared Polis signed an executive order calling for state Attorney General Phil Weiser to reexamine the disturbing case and possibly prosecute the three white officers involved, TMZ reports. The decision comes after over 2 million signed a petition this week demanding justice for the 23-year-old.
McClain had anemia and wore a mask to protect himself but was deemed “suspicious” after a call was sent to the Colorado police last August. An earlier report published on theGrio noted that he went to a convenience store to buy iced tea for his brother on August 24, 2019.
He wore an open-face ski mask because he “had anemia and would sometimes get cold,” according to his sister. Officers Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt, and Randy Roedema from the Aurora Police Department responded to a call about a “suspicious” person.
Today I signed an Executive Order designating Attorney General Phil Weiser to investigate and, if the facts support prosecution, criminally prosecute any individuals whose actions caused the death of Elijah McClain.
— Governor Jared Polis (@GovofCO) June 25, 2020
McClain was stopped by police while walking home. Though unarmed, police claimed that “a struggle ensued” and one officer accused McClain of reaching for his gun. He was then placed into a carotid hold, resulting in him losing consciousness for several minutes, according to reports.
Paramedics arrived on the scene and reportedly found McClain in an agitated state, so they gave him a “therapeutic” amount of ketamine to sedate him. The other officers held him down for 15 minutes as McClain went into cardiac arrest.
He was taken to the hospital and declared brain dead on August 30, 2019, and taken off life support.
McClain’s story has gone viral this week, amid increasing civil unrest over police brutality, systemic racism and calls to defund the police.
“It shouldn’t take a petition signed by millions to hold police accountable when they kill an innocent black man,” said Mari Newman, an attorney for Elijah’s family.
“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,” said Governor Polis.
In the executive order, which Gov. Polis shared on Twitter, he said that he was moved to act after speaking with McClain’s mother, who described her son as a “responsible and curious child … who could inspire the darkest soul.”
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