Aurora city council committee calls for independent investigation into death of Elijah McClain

Three members of Aurora’s city council are calling on the city manager to begin an independent investigation into the death of Elijah McClain, who died after a violent arrest by Aurora police and being injected with ketamine by medical responders.

The three members of the city council’s Public Safety, Courts & Civil Service Commission Policy Committee sent a letter Tuesday morning to City Manager Jim Twombly to request the third-party investigation. Councilman Curtis Gardner then distributed a copy of the letter to an email list.

McClain’s name has been chanted at protests in Denver and Aurora over the past two weeks. McClain died Aug. 30 after three Aurora police officers tackled him, used a carotid choke hold on him and handcuffed him. A paramedic injected McClain with ketamine and McClain suffered cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital, where he was declared brain dead.

McClain was accused of no crime. The 911 call that prompted police to stop McClain reported the 23-year-old as suspicious because he was wearing a mask. Adams County District Attorney Dave Young found that the officers did not violate any criminal laws and an internal investigation by the department found that the officers did not violate policy.

More than 800,000 people as of Tuesday morning had signed an online petition asking for another investigation into McClain’s death.

The committee members — Gardner, Allison Hiltz and Angela Lawson — also said they planned to review the Aurora Police Department’s use of force policy, training standards and disciplinary data.

“We know that the status quo is no longer acceptable in our criminal justice system,” the three council members wrote in their letter.

Correction: This story was updated at 1:30 p.m. to correct a date. McClain was removed from life support on Aug. 30, 2019. 

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