Updated Jul 4, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Colorado police chief fires officers who reenacted Elijah McClain's death

A man wears a t-shirt with Elijah McClain's face on it during a protest
LaWayne Mosley, father of Elijah McClain, wears a T-shirt with is son's picture on it during a press conference in Oct. 2019. Photo: Andy Cross/MediaNewsGroup/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Interim Aurora, Colorado, police chief Vanessa Wilson fired two officers for reenacting the death of 23-year-old Elijah McClain and a third officer for commenting on the photo that captured the "despicable act," the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: McClain died in the summer of 2019 after police officers held him in a chokehold and paramedics used a sedative, ketamine. People have been protesting McClain's death recently after the police killing of George Floyd revitalized the movement against police brutality.

What they're saying: Wilson said she fired Officers Erica Marrero and Kyle Dittrich for posing with Jaron Jones, who resigned earlier this week. Wilson called the photo a "despicable act," per the Post.

  • "And if any officer in this police department disagrees and thinks this was acceptable, I will gladly accept your resignation today."
  • Jason Rosenblatt replied "ha ha" to the image when he received it, the Post notes.

The state of play: The renewed focus on McClain's death prompted Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) to reopen an inquiry and appoint a special prosecutor to the case.

  • No police officer has been charged with McClain's death.

Context: A coroner's report concluded McClain died because of "undetermined causes" and the "evidence does not support the prosecution of a homicide," NBC reports.

  • However, the coroner did not rule out that the chokehold and ketamine might have contributed to his death.
  • The coroner "could not exclude the possibility that Mr. McClain suffered from an unexpected reaction to the drug."

Editor's note: Updates with additional details.

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