Jun 25, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Colorado governor reopens inquiry into death of Elijah McClain


Gov. Jared Polis. Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) on Thursday reopened an inquiry into the August 2019 death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who died after a violent confrontation with police.

Why it matters: The executive order comes after mounting pressure from Black Lives Matter activists who elevated McClain's case after months of inaction. Thursday's move directs state Attorney General Phil Weiser to investigate McClain's death and pursue charges as he sees fit.

  • "Elijah McClain should be alive today, and we owe it to his family to take this step and elevate the pursuit of justice in his name to a statewide concern,"Polis said Thursday.

The state of play: McClain, a massage therapist, was confronted by law enforcement after reports of a suspicious person who was wearing a ski mask and waving his arms while walking down a street. Officers subsequently put him in a chokehold, keeping him on the ground for 15 minutes before paramedics gave him 500 milligrams of sedatives.

  • He went into cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital, and was declared brain dead on August 27, 2019. McClain was taken off life support three days later.
  • McClain can be heard on police body cams pleading for officers to release him, stating, "Let go of me. I am an introvert. Please respect my boundaries that I am speaking."
  • "I have no gun. I don't do that stuff," McClain added.
Go deeper