Grand jury to investigate Elijah McClain's death

Grand jury to investigate Elijah McClain's death

The Colorado attorney general’s office on Friday announced that it has launched a grand jury investigation into the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who died after Aurora police put him in a chokehold in 2019. 

In a press release, state Attorney General Phil Weiser (D) said that in addition to the ongoing independent investigation into McClain’s death that was launched over the summer, Weiser’s office has now “opened a grand jury investigation,” in order to “compel testimony from witnesses and require production of documents and other relevant information that would otherwise be unavailable.” 

“Our investigation will be thorough, guided by the facts and law, and worthy of the public’s trust,” Weiser said, adding, “In order to maintain the impartiality and integrity of the process,” his office had “no further comment at this time.”

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McClain died after police officers confronted him on the street on Aug. 24, 2019. Police said they stopped McClain after receiving reports about a person wearing a mask and acting oddly. 

According to a November 2019 report from District Attorney Dave Young, McClain resisted when police attempted to restrain him, with McClain telling the officers, "Can you leave me alone, you guys started to arrest me and I was stopping my music to listen, now let me go.” 

Young wrote in the report that an officer said he then saw McClain reaching for one of the officer’s guns, which prompted another officer to put McClain in a chokehold. 

McClain fell unconscious, but after waking up, was injected with ketamine by paramedics when he reportedly became aggressive. 

The 23-year-old then fell into cardiac arrest and died days later in the hospital. 

McClain’s death gained renewed attention in 2020 following the deaths of other Black individuals at the hands of police, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, fueling months of protests against police brutality. 

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In August 2020, McClain’s family launched a civil rights lawsuit against police and medical officials over his death. 

“We have filed this civil rights lawsuit to demand justice for Elijah McClain, to hold accountable the Aurora officials, police officers, and paramedics responsible for his murder, and to force the City of Aurora to change it longstanding pattern of brutal and racist policing,” Sheneen McClain and Lawayne Mosley said in a statement released by their attorney and obtained by The Hill at the time. 

In July, the Aurora police department fired three officers and a fourth resigned after an internal investigation found they had taken and shared photos mocking the chokehold used on McClain at the site of his memorial.

However, none of the officers involved in the August 2019 incident have been charged in connection with McClain’s death.