Officers involved in Elijah McClain's death taken off street duty 'in an effort to protect' them

Aurora, Colo., officials announced Friday that the three police officers involved in the death of 23-year-old Elijah McClain last year have been reassigned and are off the streets for their own protection as McClain's case gains national attention. 

CBS News reports that officers Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt and Randy Roedema have all ban transitioned to work in a non-enforcement capacity.

A city spokesperson told CBS News that two of the officers, Woodyard and Rosenblatt, were moved on June 13, while Roedma was moved on June 20.

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"This was done in an effort to protect those officers," the spokesman said. 

The changes follow Gov. Jared PolisJared Schutz PolisProtesters surround Aurora Police precinct after photos emerge of officers mocking Elijah McClain's death Officer involved in taking pictures mocking Elijah McClain resigns Colorado governor closes bars amid rise in virus cases MORE's (D) announcement that state Attorney General Phil Weiser (D) would reinvestigate the case as a special prosecutor after more than 3 million people signed a petition demanding the case be reviewed.

McClain, a Black man who worked as a massage therapist, was stopped by police on the night of Aug. 24 while walking home from a convenience store. Police had been called over "suspicious" activity as McClain was walking with a face covering on, something family said he did to aid in his social anxiety and keep him warm as he suffered from anemia. 

Dave Young, the district attorney originally on the case, said that McClain dismissed multiple requests from the officer for him to stop. But McClain's family says body camera footage shows he was listening to music when police tried to stop him and did not immediately hear commands.

McClain's last words include him saying: "I'm an introvert. I'm just different. That's all. I'm so sorry. I have no gun. I don't do that stuff. I don't do any fighting. Why are you attacking me? I don't even kill flies! I don't eat meat! But I don't judge people, I don't judge people who do eat meat. Forgive me ... I'm so sorry."

He was held in a chokehold before vomiting. Police then injected him with ketamine to sedate him, leading to a heart attack. He was pronounced dead three days later after he was declared brain dead.

Friends and family say McClain was a sweet soul who was known for volunteering to play the violin for cats in the local animal shelter, hoping it soothed them. 

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His story has gained nationwide attention after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody as well as nationwide protests against racism and police brutality.

"He not only healed others, he healed himself," Sheneen McClain, Elijah's mother, said in an interview this week. "He was able to accept love and give love in varying forms."

She added: "They murdered him. They are bullies with badges."

The petition demanding that the case be reviewed specifically asked that the officers involved in McClain's death be taken off duty.