Family of Elijah McClain reaches settlement agreement with city of Aurora

City will sign the agreement after McClain's kin and their attorneys determine how the undisclosed amount will be divided among themselves.

The family of Elijah McClain, the young Black man who died in Aurora, Colorado, police custody in 2019, announced this week that they had reached a settlement agreement with the city. 

Ryan Luby, Aurora’s deputy director of communications and marketing, told ABC News the city “reached a settlement agreement in principle over the summer to resolve the lawsuit filed after his tragic death in August 2019.” 

The city will sign the agreement after the McClain family and their attorneys determine how the amount — which is not expected to be made public — will be divided among themselves. 

Elijah McClain
The still-grieving kin of Elijah McClain (above) who died in Aurora, Colorado, police custody in 2019, announced this week they had reached a settlement agreement with the city. (Photo: The McClain family)

“The court will now determine allocation of the proceeds between Ms. McClain, the parent who raised Elijah McClain by herself, and LaWayne Mosley,” his father, attorneys for Sheneen McClain, Elijah McClain’s mother, told Denver7

Mosley said in a Monday statement, via his attorney, “Nothing will bring back his son Elijah, who he loved dearly, but he is hopeful that this settlement with Aurora, and the criminal charges against the officers and medics … will allow his family and the community to begin to heal.” 

Elijah McClain, 23, was walking home on Aug, 24, 2019, wearing a hooded sweatshirt and a ski mask when an anonymous person called 911 to report someone “sketchy.” The unarmed massage therapist — who, according to his family, had anemia, a medical condition that reportedly made him feel cold more easily — was stopped by Aurora Police and told he was “being suspicious.”

Officers Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt and Randy Roedema placed McClain in a carotid chokehold, despite his repeated pleas that he was unable to breathe. Paramedics were called to the scene, and arriving EMTs Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec administered 500 milligrams of ketamine, which caused McClain to suffer a heart attack. He was pronounced dead three days later after being left brain dead. 

Just last month, a Colorado grand jury returned a 32-count indictment against Woodyard, Rosenblatt, Roedema, Cooper and Cichuniec, charging the men with manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, as well as other crimes.

Earlier this year, Sheneen McClain said that the charges were “a step toward justice.” 

“I’m still praying for them to be in prisons,” she told ABC News. “My son’s murderers and their accomplices all need to be in prison for what they did to him. They had no right to stop him. They had no right to handcuff him, brutalize and terrorize him or inject him with ketamine.”

Her son’s death subsequently became a clarion call in the Black Lives Matter movement to end police violence. 

A 14-month investigation into the Aurora Police Department by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser found that the department had a pattern of racial bias and excessive force. 

As previously reported, two Aurora police officers were arrested in July after pistol-whipping a 29-year-old Black man and threatening to kill him. Officer John Haubert assaulted Kyle Vinson and was charged with attempted first-degree assault, second-degree assault, oppression, felony menacing and first-degree official misconduct, while his partner, Francine Martinez, was arrested for failing to intervene and report the use of force by a peace officer. 

“We’re disgusted. We’re angry. This is not police work,” Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson said earlier this year at a news conference announcing the charges. “We don’t train this. It is not acceptable.”

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