Who was Elijah McClain and what happened to him in 2019? – The Sun
ELIJAH McClain is known as one of the many faces of the Black Lives Matter movement after he suffered a fatal heart attack when police placed him in a chokehold.
McClain was was pronounced dead on August 27, 2019, and two years after death, the officers responsible have finally been charged.
Who was Elijah McClain?
Elijah McClain was a young black man who grew up in Aurora, Colorado, and in August 2019, he was put in a chokehold by Aurora authorities and suffered a heart attack as a result of the encounter.
His death was similar to that of George Floyd, who prosecutors say was suffocated by a Minneapolis police officer on Memorial Day 2019.
McClain worked as a massage therapist that had loved animals.
According to Twitter, McClain was a soft, introverted soul who "played violin for kittens." He loved animals and worked as a massage therapist. It was later reported that he taught himself to play the guitar and violin.
What happened to McClain in August 2019?
McClain was walking home from a local convenience store on August 23, 2019 after picking up some tea.
According to McClain's family, the 23-year-old was anemic and preferred to wear a ski mask to keep his face warm while he was walking.
The Aurora Police Department received a call from a civilian about a "suspicious man" walking around and 911 dispatched police officers who then placed McClain in a chokehold upon their arrival to the scene.
According to reports, McClain repeatedly said he could not breathe, much like the George Floyd case, and bodycam footage obtained by McClain's family, showed an officer reportedly threatening him for struggling.
"He is laying on the ground vomiting, he is begging, he is saying, 'I can't breathe,'" described Mari Newman, the McClain family lawyer.
"One of the officers says, 'Don't move again. If you move again, I'm calling in a dog to bite you.'"
Once medical responders arrived, paramedics injected him with ketamine, a powerful sedative that caused the young man to go into cardiac arrest and fall into a coma. He was pronounced dead three days later.
At the time of McClain's death, Denver 7 News said, "… They couldn’t determine whether McClain's death was an accident, was due to natural causes, or is a homicide related to the police department's use of a carotid hold."
Back then, the officers on the scene were placed on temporary leave but no charges were filed.
Has anyone been charged since his death?
On September 1, 2021, it was announced that three officers and two medics had been charged in association with his death.
All five were charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, while some face other charges.
Those who have been charged include:
- Officer Randy Roedema
- Officer Nathan Woodyard
- Officer Jason Rosenblatt
- Paramedic Jeremy Cooper
- Fire Lt. Peter Cichuniec
Alongside the manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges, Roedema and Rosenblatt also face charges of second-degree assault with intent to cause bodily injury and one count of a crime of violence related to the assault charge.
Cooper and Cichuniec also face three counts of second-degree assault.
“Our goal is to seek justice for Elijah McClain, for his family and his friends,” Attorney General Phil Weiser said in a statement.
“He was a son, a nephew, a brother, a friend. When he died he was only 23 years old, he had his whole life ahead of him. His family and his friends must now go on and live without him.”
McClain's mother added in that she is, "overwhelmed emotionally by this news and appreciates the hard work of Phil Weiser and the rest of his team. There is not a day that goes by that she does not think of her son Elijah.”
Was there a settlement?
In a historic settlement, Aurora agreed to pay $15million to the McClain family in a settlement for the civil rights lawsuit, three anonymous sources told CBSLocal. They reported the sources weren't authorized to discuss the legal proceedings.
The details of the settlement won't be made public until the deal is official.
This settlement exceeds the previous national high of $12million in the Breonna Taylor case and significantly surpasses Aurora's largest settlement of $2.6million.
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