The Colorado governor appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old black man who was placed in the neck of the Denver suburb by police last year, after a justice petition obtained nearly 3 million you sign in just three weeks.
Governor Jared Polis signed an executive order directing the state’s attorney general, Phil Weiser, to investigate McClain’s death and possibly prosecute those involved. McClain’s name has recently become a rallying cry during the national trial on racism and police brutality following the death of George Floyd and others.
“Elijah McClain should be alive today, and we owe it to his family to take this step and raise the quest for justice on his behalf to state concern,” Polis said in a statement.
He said he had spoken to McClain’s mother and was touched by her description of her son as a “responsible and curious child … who could inspire the darkest soul.”
Police in the Aurora suburbs received a call about a suspicious person wearing a ski mask and waving his arms while walking down a street on August 24. Police say McClain refused to stop walking and defended himself when officers confronted him and tried to stop him.
One of the officers put him in a specialized cellar, pressing against his carotid artery and cutting blood to the brain, a practice that has been banned in several places following Floyd’s death on May 25 under the knee of a police officer. Minneapolis police. and the global protests that followed.
Police body camera video shows McClain telling officers, “Let me go. I’m an introvert. Please respect the limits I’m talking about. “Those words have appeared in dozens of social media posts demanding justice for McClain.
McClain remained on the floor for 15 minutes, then paramedics gave him 500 milligrams of a sedative to calm him down. McClain suffered cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital and was declared brain dead on August 27. He was removed from life support three days later.
A forensic pathologist working for the coroner was unable to determine what exactly led to his death, but said the physical exertion during the confrontation likely contributed.
McClain was a massage therapist who planned to go to college, her younger sister Samara McClain told the Denver Post shortly after her death. She said that her brother was walking to a corner store to ask a cousin for tea and that she often wore masks when she was outside because she had a blood condition that made her cool off easily.
McClain’s friends and family said he was a spiritual seeker, pacifist, stranger, vegetarian, athlete, and peacemaker, who was extremely kind, according to the Colorado Sentinel.
Three officers were placed on paid administrative leave while the incident was investigated by the Denver and Aurora police, as well as by the district attorney’s office.
District Attorney Dave Young said in a letter to then Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz that he could find no indisputable evidence that Aurora officers or others used “unwarranted” force and that it was “unlikely that the prosecution prove the cause of death beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury. “
Many citizens and activists and some legislators in Colorado have long protested the result. McClain’s case reemerged during local and national protests over the deaths of George Floyd and other black men and women after clashes with police.
An Instagram account, “justiceforelijahmcclain”. She has more than 150,000 followers and a hashtag with more than 17,000 posts. A Change.org petition demanding justice for McClain had nearly 3 million signatures on Thursday night.
The Colorado attorney general said in a statement that the special counsel’s investigation would be comprehensive and “worthy of public trust and confidence in the criminal justice system.”