- Hannah Ho, reporter
The Death of Elijah McClain
*Content warning- the information in this story could be triggering to some readers*
Elijah McClain was a 23-year-old black male who died a few days after being confronted by Aurora, Colo. police officers Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt and Randy Roedema.
On Aug. 24, 2019, McClain was on his way home from a convenience store while listening to music when Aurora police received a call saying that he looked sketchy and was wearing a ski mask and waving his arms.
McClain was wearing a ski mask because he had Anemia, a blood condition that makes people get cold easily.
A police officer stopped McClain on his walk home and told him he had the right to stop him for looking suspicious then proceeded to grab him by his arm.
As another officer began to approach the situation, McClain said, “I am an introvert, please respect the boundaries that I am speaking. Leave me alone.”
Even though McClain did not commit a crime, the three police officers restrained him and began to arrest him.
According to NPR, a federal civil right lawsuit was filed by McClain’s parents against Aurora Colorado police officers, paramedics, and medical director of Aurora Fire Rescue.
In the lawsuit, it stated that the officers pinned him down for about 18 minutes, 15 of those minutes was him getting handcuffed. While McClain was being pinned down and crushed, he still told the police officers how beautiful they were.
In the officers’ body cam footage, McClain is heard saying, “You all are phenomenal. You are beautiful. Forgive me. Ow. Ow. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. Ow. Ow, that really hurt. You guys are very strong. Teamwork makes the dreamwork,” as he was getting arrested.
McClain told the officers, “I can’t breathe,” five times.
“I’m just different, that’s all. That’s all I was doing. I’m so sorry. I have no gun. I don’t do that stuff. I don’t do any fighting. Why were you attacking me?” McClain said.
“I don’t do guns. I don’t even kill flies. I don’t eat meat… I am a vegetarian. I don’t judge people for anything. I try to live, and I respect all life. Forgive me. All I was trying to do was become better… But I’ll do it. I’ll do it,” said McClain as he was crying and being crushed by the officers’ body weight.
At one point, officers used great force on him and put him in a carotid hold which restricts blood flow to the brain. The excessive amount of force used on him made him briefly lose consciousness.
Aurora officers repeatedly slammed his body to the ground even after he had arched up for a moment to vomit as a reaction to the pain.
As McClain tried to reach for his phone to turn off the music so he could listen to the officers, an officer said “He just grabbed your gun dude,” to another officer.
The officers began to threaten McClain. They said that they would tase him and get their dog to bite him if he did not stop messing around.
While the officers continued to crush McClain with their weight, paramedics injected him with a massive dose of ketamine in an attempt to sedate him. He did not have any medical conditions that needed to be treated with ketamine.
Ketamine has very devastating side effects, and even if the use of ketamine was medically indicated, which it was not, the paramedics injected him with a massive dose, more than someone his size should receive.
After injecting McClain with a massive dose of ketamine, his body became limp and a few moments later, went into cardiac arrest. McClain died six days later on Aug. 30, 2019.
Police officers Woodyard, Rosenblatt and Roedema were placed on administrative leave but came back shortly after the autopsy of McClain was released.
According to The New York Times, no criminal charges were filed because there was not enough evidence the officers had broken the law when they confronted and arrested McClain using force.
After many protests, Governor Polis of Aurora, Colo. revised an executive order to potentially prosecute the police.
McClain was a massage therapist who loved animals and taught himself how to play instruments like the guitar and the violin. McClain would play music for stray cats because he believed that it soothed them.
Even in such a negative situation, McClain spoke nothing but positivity and many people are still signing petitions and protesting to not only get the police officers fired, but to get the officers prosecuted as well.