Special Prosecutor Appointed To Investigate Police Killing Of Elijah McClain

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[Elijah McClain\Aurora Police]
Renewed attention on McClain’s death — through national press coverage and social media activism — comes amid a nationwide reckoning with police brutality against Black communities and racial inequities following the death last month of George Floyd.
Photo: YouTube

Elijah McClain, massage therapist and self-taught musician, yet another innocent victim of racist policing.

Amid a growing national outcry, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Thursday designated Attorney General Phil Weiser as a special prosecutor to investigate the death of 23-year-old Elijah McClain following a violent encounter with Aurora police last year.

Prosecutors opted not to charge the three Aurora officers involved in the incident, which culminated with McClain being placed in a chokehold, then given a sedative by medical personnel, after he refused to stop for police responding to a report of a suspicious person walking down the street.

The governor’s office said that if the facts support prosecution, Weiser would also criminally charge any individuals whose actions caused McClain’s death.

“I was moved by speaking with Elijah’s mother and her description of her son as a responsible and curious child who became a vegetarian to be healthier, and who could inspire the darkest soul,” Polis said in a statement. “His friends describe him as a gentle peacemaker who worked as a massage therapist and enjoyed playing the violin. 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.”

Renewed attention on McClain’s death — through national press coverage and social media activism — comes amid a nationwide reckoning with police brutality against Black communities and racial inequities following the death last month of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

“Whenever someone dies after an encounter with law enforcement, the community deserves a thorough investigation,” Weiser said in a statement. “Our investigation will be thorough, guided by the facts, and worthy of public trust and confidence in the criminal justice system."

The statement from the Colorado Attorney General’s Office ended by saying there would be no further comment on the case until findings are announced, citing a need to remain impartial.

Aurora’s investigation

The move to launch a state-level investigation comes as Aurora grapples with its own attempts to reexamine McClain’s death, which was not ruled a homicide by the county coroner.

About two weeks ago, Aurora city leaders canceled a contract for a third-party investigation into McClain’s death in police custody after City Council members raised concerns that a former police officer was hired for the job.

Unbeknownst to McClain’s family, the City Council or taxpayers, Aurora city leaders in February hired attorney Eric Daigle, a former Connecticut State Police officer, to lead an investigation into the death. City Manager Jim Twombly publicly announced the hire this month for the first time and then canceled the contract the following day after community outcry.

Representing the McClain family, attorney Mari Newman said the family and community have demanded an independent investigation into the case since last fall.

“Only recently, in response to the outcry of millions of people across the globe and international media scrutiny, did Aurora finally claim to have hired a so-called ‘independent investigator,’ who media quickly revealed was actually a former police officer turned lawyer, whose legal practice is dedicated to defending police who use excessive force,” Newman said in a statement. “It is time for a responsible adult to step in, and I am glad that the governor is showing leadership. Elijah’s family is so thankful for the millions of people who have stood up to denounce the murder of their beloved son by Aurora police and medics. It should not take a massive petition and international media attention to hold law enforcement accountable for killing an innocent Black man.”

For the rest of this Denver Post story log on to: https://www.denverpost.com/2020/06/25/elijah-mcclain-special-prosecutor-...

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