AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) — The City of Aurora has filed a denial of wrongdoing in federal court — saying officers and paramedics were not responsible for the death of Elijah McClain. The document was submitted as part of the civil rights lawsuit filed by McClain’s family.
In it, city attorneys claim officers were justified in stopping 23-year-old McClain as he was walking home in August 2019 — and in their use of the carotid hold, a subduing technique that was later banned by the City of Aurora.
The claim also denies wrongdoing on behalf of the Aurora Fire Rescue paramedics who sedated McClain with ketamine before he died.
McClain was walking home from a store where he purchased tea for his brother in August 2019. A passerby called 911 and reported McClain was acting odd. McClain was not armed, and had not committed a crime.
Three officers responded to the call, and located McClain walking northbound near Interstate 225, he was wearing a mask.
McClain didn’t stop when officers told him to, later telling them he had his music on and couldn’t hear them. One officer grabs McClain, who asks the officer to respect his boundaries.
The officers claim McClain resisted arrest, and that he attempted to take one of their guns. Body camera footage does not capture evidence of McClain reaching for their guns.
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 three days later.
The lawsuit claims the young man died as a result of police force and the use of ketamine by paramedics which the city has continued to use. The complaint lists numerous other incidents of Aurora police interactions with Blacks involving force.
The three officers involved in McClain’s death were removed from patrol duty in June. They have not been charged.
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 have appealed their terminations.