Following the news that Elijah McClain's case is being reopened in Colorado, the late 16-year-old's mother has accused police of an "elaborate cover-up" in her son's death. While speaking to TMZ, Sheneen McClain stated that she holds the police officers who arrested her son responsible for his death, and added that she feels like they already got away with it.
Recently, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced that he's instructed a special prosecutor to investigate the circumstances surrounding McClain's death. "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," he said in a statement. Sheneen doesn't feel confident that the new investigation will amount to much, however, as she told TMZ that she thinks it's "just another song and dance." The outlet noted that an online petition to have McClain's case reopened has been signed by more than three million people, which may have been part of what led Polis to his decision.
However, McClain's family attorney, Mari Newman, feels that something should have been done much sooner. "It shouldn't take a petition signed by millions to hold police accountable when they kill an innocent black man," Newman said. Sheenan added that she is happy to know that her son's story is spreading, but now she wants justice and hopes that the officers involved in McClain's death are sentenced to life in prison.
In August 2019, McClain was stopped by police officers after they received a call about a Black male in a mask walking down the road. Recently surfaced bodycam footage from the officers revealed that they confronted McClain about the "suspicious behavior" call and arrested him after he resisted. During the footage, one of the officers can be heard stating that McClain was reaching for another officer's weapon. The officers believed McClain to be on some kind of illegal drug and called for an ambulance.
The responding paramedic gave McClain a dose of ketamine, even though he was already unresponsive at the time. On the way to the hospital, McClain suffered cardiac arrest. Police claimed that he regained consciousness, but McClain died several says after being admitted to the hospital. In November, The Adams County coroner ruled McClain's cause of death to be "undetermined." The autopsy report listed possible contributing factors as being "intense physical exertion and a narrow left coronary artery."
The D.A. initially declined to charge the officers, stating that their actions were "legally" justified. He added, "While the officers no doubt used force in this incident, based on the evidence and the law applicable at the time of Mr. McClain's death, the prosecution cannot disprove the officers' reasonable belief in the necessity to use force." In a statement days after the incident, the Aurora Police Department said, "We fully understand the need for transparency throughout this entire investigation and we can appreciate the seriousness of this matter. ... We continue to offer our deepest condolences to the McClain family and friends during this very difficult time."