Parents Of Elijah McClain Sue City Of Aurora, Colo., And Police Over His Death

Aug 11, 2020
Originally published on August 11, 2020 7:59 pm

The parents of Elijah McClain, a Black man who died last year after police twice put him in a chokehold and paramedics sedated him, have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The lawsuit names as defendants the city of Aurora, Colo., as well as numerous Aurora police officers, a paramedic and the medical director of Aurora Fire Rescue.

McClain was not suspected of committing any crimes when police approached him, as Colorado Public Radio's Allison Sherry reported:

"McClain, a professional massage therapist, is described as a gentle soul, an animal lover and a self-taught violinist in the 106-page civil rights complaint. 

"McClain was walking back from a convenience store, where he had purchased iced tea, on Aug. 24, 2019, when officers attempted to take him into custody, pinning him down for 18 minutes — 15 of those minutes he was handcuffed, according to the complaint.

"They were responding to a 911 call of a man walking down the street looking 'sketchy.' " 

" 'My name is Elijah McClain. That's all. That's what I was doing. I was just going home. I'm an introvert and I'm different,' a sobbing McClain said to police as they pinned him to the ground, according to the complaint. 'I'm just different. I'm just different, that's all. That's all I was doing. I'm so sorry. I have no gun. I don't do that stuff. I don't do any fighting. Why were you attacking me? I don't do guns. I don't even kill flies. I don't eat meat. ... I am a vegetarian.' "

McClain suffered cardiac arrest and died six days later.

His words — "Why are you attacking me? Why are you attacking me? I don't even kill flies. I don't even kill flies. I don't eat meat. I don't eat meat." -- have become the chants of protests this summer as those demanding justice for McClain have compared his death to that of George Floyd's in Minneapolis.

The complaint alleges that there was no reason for McClain to be sedated with ketamine, and that the dose he was administered was too large for his body weight.

Three separate investigations into McClain's death are now underway: by the federal government, state attorney general's office and the city of Aurora.

In June, three Aurora police officers were fired due to an incident involving photos in which officers posed near a memorial for McClain, imitating the chokehold that was used on him. Three of the officers involved in that incident are among those named in the lawsuit.

McClain's family lawyer, Mari Newman, said in a statement Tuesday that the lawsuit is intended "to demand justice for Elijah McClain, to hold accountable the Aurora officials, police officers, and paramedics responsible for his murder, and to force the City of Aurora to change it longstanding pattern of brutal and racist policing."

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