The Final Words of Elijah McClain:
“I can’t breathe. I have my ID right here. My name is Elijah McClain. That’s my house. I was just going home. 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 who do eat meat. Forgive me. All I was trying to do was become better. I will do it. I will do anything. Sacrifice my identity, I will do it. You all are phenomenal. You are beautiful and I love you. Try to forgive me. I’m a mood Gemini. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Ow, that really hurt. You are all very strong. Teamwork makes the dream work. *crying* Oh, I’m sorry I wasn’t trying to do that. I just can’t breathe correctly.”
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser announced Wednesday morning that the grand jury returned a 32-count indictment against the three Aurora police officers and two medics with Aurora fire involved in Elijah McClain’s death a little more than two years ago.
McClain was walking home from a store where he purchased tea for his brother in August 2019 when a passerby called 911 and reported McClain was acting odd. After a confrontation with police, McClain was placed in a chokehold, and tackled to the ground. Eventually he was given ketamine, a sedative, by an Aurora Fire Department paramedic. He died a few days later, on Aug. 30, 2019.
The officers involved were not charged by the Adams County District Attorney at the time. Weiser announced an independent investigation into McClain’s death in June of last year and announced the grand jury investigation in January.
The grand jury finished their work on Aug. 26 and the McClain family was informed on Tuesday of the indictments. When McClain’s father LaWayne Mosley was told about the indictments, he “wept tears of joy” according to the family’s attorney Mari Newman.
“Nothing will bring back my son, but I am thankful that his killers will finally be held accountable,” said Mosley in a statement.
The three Aurora police officers and two medics with Aurora fire face manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges.
The three police officers involved in McClain’s death were removed from patrol duty in June 2020.
One of the officers, Jason Rosenblatt, was fired over his response to a photo text message, in which three APD officers posed for a picture reenacting the carotid restraint used on McClain. The three fired officers appealed their terminations.
In February, the Aurora Civil Service Commission upheld the termination of those officers.
The City of Aurora has asked to dismiss a wrongful death lawsuit filed by McClain’s family. The dismissal filing claims that McClain’s death was not caused by deliberate and discriminatory actions by the Aurora police officers involved. Six officers are named in the lawsuit.
Earlier this year state lawmakers worked to pass yet another law that restricts the use of ketamine, the sedative used on McClain. Unless emergency medical technicians can take several steps to ensure the proper use of the drug, outside of a medical emergency it can no longer be used outside of a hospital.
The Aurora Police Association released this statement when Weiser announced the grand jury indictments: Immediately after Elijah McClain’s death, Chief Metz stated clearly that McClain was not murdered by our officers. Nothing has changed. Our officers did nothing wrong.
McClain died due to a combination of exertion due to his decision to violently resist arrest and a preexisting heart condition. He was alive and talking when the officers turned him over to EMS. There is no evidence that our officers caused his death.
The hysterical overreaction to this case has severely damaged the police department. Inevitably, the public are the ones who’ve paid the price. This fall, the public has the opportunity to restore sanity to this situation in the City Council elections. They should not take a return to normalcy for granted.
Weiser’s office is continuing to investigate whether the Aurora Police Department has a pattern or practice of violating citizens’ civil rights.