Elijah McClain’s death is now being investigated following a social media protest after the fatal August incident while in police custody.
Officers’ safety was the main reason for the move, as several police and city employees have recently received complaints and threats, said Faith Goodrich, a spokeswoman for the Aurora Police Department.
“Last year, we stood on the steps of the city center demanding an investigation and what did we hear then? Crickets,” said Mari Newman, an attorney for the McClain family.
“Why did it take nearly a year, international media attention, millions of people who signed a petition for a responsible adult to finally step forward and do what should have happened from the beginning?”
By order of the governor, Attorney General Phil Weiser will investigate the death. The Aurora suburb of Denver is planning a separate investigation into the actions of first responders in the case.
What happened on August 24
McClain was detained by three white officers while walking home from a convenience store on August 24.
A person who called 911 had described a “suspicious person,” according to a police description of the incident.
During the stop, he resisted contact with officers and a fight ensued, according to the report. In one of the officers’ body cameras, McClain is heard saying, “I am an introvert, respect the limits I am talking about.”
The Bodycam video shows him telling officers that he was trying to stop his music to listen to them, then they begin to arrest him. An officer is heard saying to another, “He just grabbed your gun, buddy.”
The video shows an officer fighting McClain on the ground.
At one point during the fight, an officer is heard threatening to take the dog out “if you keep playing.”
An officer placed McClain in a carotid hold, or strangler, and passed out briefly, according to a general description of the incident provided by police.
They released the hold, the report says, and he started fighting again. When paramedics arrived on the scene, they administered the drug ketamine to sedate McClain, according to the report. According to a letter from the district attorney, McClain suffered a heart attack while in the ambulance and was declared brain dead three days later.
An autopsy did not determine the cause of death, but listed intense physical exertion and a narrow left coronary artery as contributing factors, according to the police summary. The coroner found that the amount of ketamine in his system is a therapeutic amount.
In February of this year, a police review board stated: “