Authorities in Colorado have re-opened the case of Elijah McClain's death at the hands of police in Aurora in 2019. The 23-year-old Black man was walking home last August before being stopped by police, put into a chokehold, injected with ketamine by paramedics and later died.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis appointed a special prosecutor on Thursday, which could potentially lead to the prosecution of the officers who were involved in the arrest. McClain's death, as well as the inaction by authorities, has found renewed interest as ongoing civil rights protests continue across the U.S. calling for an end to police violence toward minorities. McClain family attorney Mari Newman spoke about the announcement with TMZ. "It shouldn't take a petition signed by millions to hold police accountable when they kill an innocent black man."
Polis himself said that "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 also credited McClain's mother for the decision, who described her late son as a "responsible and curious child who could inspire the darkest soul."
Three officers in Aurora stopped McClain while he was walking on August 24, 2019 after responding to a call about a suspicious person walking the streets in a ski mask and waving their arms. The officers claim that McClain refused to stop walking and resisted arrest when police confronted him and attempted to place him in custody. One of the cops placed Elijah in a chokehold. Footage taken from the cops' body-cameras shows him telling the cops, "Let go of me. I am an introvert. Please respect the boundaries that I am speaking."
The officers reportedly kept McClain on the ground for roughly 15 minutes prior to being given the sedative by paramedics. He suffered cardiac arrest on the way to a hospital and was declared brain dead three days later before being later taken off life support in the days that followed. His family addressed the mask, which they said he commonly wore to keep warm due to his anemia.
McClain is one of many Black Americans that have been murdered while in police custody which have become rallying cries for the protests, which themselves began after the death of 46-year-old George Floyd during his arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25. Others have followed, including Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police during a no-knock raid by plainclothes police in Louisville, Kentucky back in March.