FBI Seal

FBI To Potentially Open Civil Rights Investigation Over Elijah McClain’s Death

Nearly one year later, Elijah McClain’s story has not only begun circulating social media, but gathered enough attention to get the investigation formerly reopened and reviewed. In fact, the FBI and US Justice Department recently made a statement in which they claimed that they’ve been reviewing the circumstances surrounding McClain’s death since 2019. 

The review so far has mainly focused on determining whether or not a federal civil rights investigation is warranted based on the initial evidence. The statement claimed that the matter was “ongoing” as they’re in the process of gathering additional pieces of information such as testimonials and other evidence that could be useful. According to the FBI, the Aurora Police Department and other parties working within the city have been cooperating through it all. 

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McClain’s family reacted to the news recently with their own statement in which they expressed their shock, but relief, that the investigation will continue to be reviewed. 

“I am both surprised and pleased to hear that a civil rights investigation is being considered. The Aurora Police Department has a long and sordid history of both brutality and racism, and a comprehensive civil rights investigation is long overdue.”

Mari Newman went on to invite the federal agencies to reach out to the family whenever needed, as they will “happily provide information to assist in this critically important investigation.” 

McClain’s death is a story that’s become all too familiar in America, and is the reason we’re currently seeing a nationwide demand for social justice and racial equality for black individuals. McClain was 23-years-old when he was walking home from the store late at night. McClain had anemia, which caused his body to become cold very easily, so he walked home in full sweats and a ski mask to remain warm. Someone noticed McClain and reported a “suspicious looking man” to the police. 

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McClain was then stopped by three white police officers and when he resisted initial contact with one officer, an aggressive struggle was brought on by the police and they put him in a carotid hold; more commonly referred to as a choke-hold. They held him in the choke-hold for 15 minutes while he pleaded that he “couldn’t breathe,” vomited, and briefly lost consciousness. When paramedics arrived at the scene they injected him with a dose of ketamine to sedate him. McClain then suffered a heart attack on the way to the hospital, and was declared brain dead three years later. 

As of right now all three officers involved still have their jobs but have been reassigned to “non-enforcement duties.” The main reasoning for this reassignment was to keep the “officers safety as priority,” sparking massive new waves of anger and protests. More than 2 million people have now signed a petition demanding that justice be served for these men who murdered 23-year-old McClain. 

As the investigation got brought into the mainstream, multiple Aurora officers have been placed on administrative leave after new images surfaced of them near the scene where McClain was murdered. The investigation into all parties involved is still pending according to the Aurora police chief. 

“This investigation will be publicly released in its entirety promptly upon its conclusion. This will include reports, photographic evidence obtained, officer’s names, and my final determination which can rise to the level of termination.”

The FBI and Justice Department said that they’re aware of all media reports surrounding the case and photographs that have already been made public before the investigation could conclude, however, they claim to not have any further comments until that conclusion is actually met.

Signing Petition

2 Million People Sign Petition Demanding ‘Justice For Elijah McClain’ A Year After His Death

Nearly 2 million people have now signed a petition demanding that the investigation of the death of 23-year-old Elijah McClain be reopened. McClain suffered a heart attack after Aurora police officers forcefully held him on the ground for 15 minutes and paramedics gave him a dosage of ketamine as sedative. 

The petition itself calls on the city of Aurora, Colorado – specifically Adams County- and law enforcement agencies to not only fire the officers who held McClain in a choke-hold, but conduct a much more in-depth investigation that would lead to proper charges being met for the individuals responsible in McClain’s murder. 

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Sheneen McClain, Elijah McClain’s mother, provides photos of Elijah while testifying before a House Finance committee in support of SB-217 regarding police reform at the State Capitol June 10, 2020

On August 24th, 2019, McClain was walking home at night and wearing a ski mask due to his anemia; the ski mask would help him remain warm since anemia can slow down blood flow, especially in cooler night temperatures.  Someone called the police and reported seeing a “suspicious looking man” walking around. Police arrived, told McClain to stop and after he refused the officers resorted to physical means of stopping him; which resulted in a 15 minute choke-hold and the ignoring of McClain’s pleas that he was in pain and couldn’t breathe properly. 

Aurora paramedics arrived at the scene and injected McClain with ketamine, he then went into cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital where he fell into a coma and later died. According to Mari Newman, McClain’s family’s lawyer, the 23-year-old was vomiting while being restrained by the police and clearly saying that he “couldn’t breathe.” Newman also claims that an officer threatened to call in “a dog to bite” McClain if he continued to struggle; despite his pleas. 

The Aurora Police Department announced that they would be banning cartid pressure holds, and creating a duty for officers to intervene if they believe colleagues are violating department policy. The department has also changed their stance on reports of “suspicious individuals” claiming that officers will not be required to make contact with anyone reported as suspicious, but rather observe them from a distance. 

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Demonstrators gathered to honor the life of Elijah McClain in Aurora, Colorado on June 6, 2020

“The department recognizes that Black people are reported as suspicious at higher rates than other races. No one should ever be considered suspicious based on the color of their skin,” said Aurora Police Department Interim Chief Vanessa Wilson.

Protesters are more than unsatisfied with the Aurora police department’s response to McClain’s murder, claiming that policy changes within the system often don’t do anything to create real systemic change in the way that white police officers treat black individuals. McClain’s autopsy also revealed inconclusive results in regard to his cause of death, leading to all officers present at the scene remaining uncharged. 

McClain’s family launched a fundraiser to help pay for his memorial and legal fees, as they believe that if McClain’s autopsy results were “inconclusive” then that should be even more motivation to investigate the death further. Loved ones have also flooded social media with positive memories and images of McClain, remembering him as a beautiful and quirky young man who used to play violin for stray cats at animal shelters in his spare time. He also worked as a massage therapist in Aurora, where all of his clients regarded him as a positive individual who always made people smile. 

If you want to help contribute to Elijah McClain’s family, legal fund, or petition to reopen his investigation, click here.