DA Defends Decision Not to Charge Cops in Elijah McClain Death


Last August, Elijah McClain, a 23-year old young man, who was walking home while listening to music, died after police used a chokehold to restrain him.

Elijah was known by his friends and family to be an introvert. He taught himself to play the violin and often played for stray kittens to calm them. 

His death did not gather much attention in August. However, due to public scrutiny and debate revolving around police brutality, Elijah’s death has the nation’s attention.

Officers Respond

Elijah McClain
Source: YouTube Video

On August 24, 2019, officers responded to a call about a suspicious person in a neighborhood wearing a ski mask and waving his arms.

Elijah, who was 5 foot 6 inches tall and weighed 140 pounds, was walking home from a store while listening to music and dancing. He was wearing a ski mask, as he frequently did. Due to anemia, he was often cold and needed extra warmth.

Police approached, and Elijah asked, “please respect the boundaries that I am speaking…” while trying to continue to walk home.

Bodycam footage shows the police restraining him in a carotid chokehold and commenting on Elijah’s “incredible, crazy strength.”

Paramedics arrived on the scene and gave Elijah a dose of ketamine.

After being loaded into the ambulance, he suffered a cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital.

Elijah McClain in the hospital
Source: YouTube Video

A few days later Elijah’s doctors declared he was brain dead.

Forensic Evidence

The autopsy showed physical exertion and the narrow left coronary artery as a contribution to his death.

However, the pathologist who did the autopsy was unable to conclude whether the actions of law enforcement directly caused Elijah’s death.

Aurora, Colorado DA’s Office

According to the DA, David Young, there is no criminal wrongdoing because Colorado law requires prosecutors to prove the accused caused the death of a victim.

Young does not believe there is enough evidence to support a homicide charge.

The responding officers were on administrative leave for a short time but were eventually reinstated.

National Attention and Demands for a New Investigation

A petition with over three million signatures shows public support for a new probe into Elijah’s death.

Elijah’s family and the community demanded an independent investigation; however, it is only recently an independent investigator was appointed.

However, the investigator turned out to be a former police officer who is now an attorney specializing in defending police officers. The community response brought up concerns over the choice of an investigator, and the contract was canceled. 

Therefore, the Mayor, Mike Coffman, scheduled a vote on July 6 for the City Council to decide who is the best person to investigate the actions of the Aurora Police Department on August 24, 2019.

Featured image: YouTube screengrabs