Aug 11, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Elijah McClain's family sues Aurora police and paramedics

People marching in the street to protest the death of Elijah McClain on July 25, 2020 in Aurora, Colorado.
People marching in the street to protest the death of Elijah McClain on July 25, 2020 in Aurora, Colorado. Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

The family of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who died in 2019 after officers put him in a chokehold and paramedics injected him with ketamine in suburban Denver, sued police and medical officials on Tuesday in federal court, AP reports.

Why it matters: Black Lives Matter protests sparked by George Floyd's killing have prompted a nationwide reckoning, resulting in renewed criticism of Aurora police officers over McClain’s death.

  • His family said they want to hold those responsible for their son's death accountable and to send a message that “racism and brutality have no place in American law enforcement.”

Context: Three white law enforcement officers responding to a call about a person wearing a ski mask stopped McClain on Aug. 24, 2019.

  • The officers put him in a chokehold and paramedics gave him 500 milligrams of ketamine in an attempt to calm him down. McClain suffered cardiac arrest and was eventually declared brain dead. He was taken off life support several days thereafter.

What they're saying: “We have filed this civil rights lawsuit 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 its longstanding pattern of brutal and racist policing,” the family said in a statement, according to AP.

  • The lawsuit claims that one officer jammed his knee into McClain’s arm “with the sole purpose of inflicting pain" by separating his bicep and tricep muscles.
  • It also claims that all three officers, who collectively weighed more than 700 pounds, simultaneously placed their body weight on McClain after the chokehold. McClain weighed 140 pounds, per AP.

Go deeper: Colorado governor reopens inquiry into death of Elijah McClain

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