AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – A heated city council meeting in Aurora questioned the police use of force during a protest and violin concert on Saturday night. Organizers of the protest were calling for justice for Elijah McClain.
“I had constituents who were maced who I know were not participating in any violent activities. I have constituents whose children are traumatized from this. What can we do better going forward?” asked Councilmember Juan Marcano.
The police department provided a detailed account of the officers’ actions and decision making. Police department leaders discussed the potential threats agitators posed and why officers marched forward into the crowd to try and separate protesters and peaceful concert-goers.
“It was a danger, it was a danger to those people,” Interim Police Chief Vanessa Wilson said.
Councilmembers asked about the use of smoke and pepper spray and why officers advanced onto the lawn.
Chief Wilson said she regrets not communicating with people better, but felt it was necessary to keep agitators from rushing the police headquarters.
“Your words have not fallen on deaf ears for me, it’s a very emotional time for me right now,” she said after overwhelming negative public comment.
Mayor Mike Coffman said the public review was a necessary piece of the process. He also said changes to the police department have been going on since August when then incident with McClain occurred.
“When it’s discovered what the problems are, to bring them to the public, to have outside eyes look at them. To figure out how to correct the problem and then to move forward,” Coffman said. “I want to put this behind us. and be able to bridge the divide between the African-American community and our police department.”