Parents Of Elijah McClain Sue City Of Aurora, Police Department For Son's Killing
The 23-year-old was injected with a sedative while being arrested by Aurora police.
June 30, 2020 at 4:48 pm
Update (August 12, 2020): The parents of Elijah McClain filed a civil rights lawsuit on Tuesday against the city of Aurora, Colorado, the city's police department and the paramedics who administered the drug that led to the death of the 23-year-old.
They argue their son was stopped without legal cause and that officers tried to deflect their aggressive behavior toward him by filing an assault charge against the young man, NPR reports.
As Blavity previously reported, police stopped McClain On Aug. 24, 2019, as he walked down a street wearing a ski mask and headphones. His family told the Associated Press he wore the mask because of a blood condition that caused him to be more susceptible to cold.
Police wrote in their reports that they believed McClain was connected to a gang, which his parents have denied. They say their son was a creative and peaceful man who worked as a massage therapist and played violin for cats at shelters.
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser’s office announced its investigation into the police department and said investigators were determining whether officers have been denying citizens their constitutional rights, according to CBS4.
“To clarify information that is in the public domain, the Attorney General’s Office is confirming that, for several weeks now, it has been investigating patterns and practices of the Aurora Police Department that might deprive individuals of their constitutional rights under state or federal law. This patterns and practice investigation, authorized by SB20-217, is in addition to a separate investigation the office is conducting into the death of Elijah McClain. In order to maintain the impartiality and integrity of these investigations, the Attorney General’s Office has no further comment at this time,” the office's statement read.
The attorney general's investigation is separate from the one being conducted by the office of Gov. Jared Polis, reports CBS4.
The city manager and Police Chief Vanessa Wilson said an external firm would audit the department’s policies on hiring and practices regarding the use of force, the AP reports.
“We embrace this opportunity for change and are committed to evolve for the betterment of our profession, our community and the residents we serve,” Wilson said.
The department came under fire for putting a Black family, including four young girls, in handcuffs while investigating a stolen vehicle on Aug. 2, as Blavity previously reported.
Wilson said she was disgusted by the treatment of the girls and McClain’s unfortunate case. She has since fired three officers who took a picture reenacting the chokehold that contributed to McClain’s death and has requested an internal investigation into the Aug. 2 incident.
Original (June 30, 2020): A vigil held in honor of Elijah McClain on Saturday in an Aurora, Colorado park turned violent when police officers wearing full riot gear were seen charging toward a group of participants.
The vigil, which was part of a larger rally, was organized by Denver's Party for Socialism and Liberation and included a performance by violinists as an ode to the 23-year-old, who was known for playing his instrument to shelter animals, according to The Cut.
Mic reported there were thousands of people at the demonstration, including families with small children.
Six-time Grammy nominee Ashanti Floyd and Lee England Jr. were two of the musicians who performed on Saturday.
As people listened to the violinists while holding signs calling for justice, officers marched into the park and deployed a chemical agent.