After an 8-month grand jury investigation, Denver police and paramedics will finally face charges related to the death of 23-year-old Elijah McClain. Aurora police stopped McClain as he walked home from a convenience store with a plastic bag. Calling him “suspicious,” the group of police quickly tackled and put McClain in a chokehold. After struggling on the ground, saying that he could not breathe, and begging to be freed, paramedics arrived on the scene and gave McClain a dose of the sedative ketamine. McClain had no pulse, was rushed by ambulance to the hospital, and suffered cardiac arrest en route seven minutes later. Though revived by paramedics, McClain was pronounced brain dead and taken off life support just days later.
On Wednesday, State Attorney General Phil Weiser announced that two active Aurora officers and one retired officer, as well as two paramedics, will be charged with both manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. In total, the indictment includes 32 counts. “I said our investigation would be guided by a commitment to the facts, by thorough and diligent work, and we would be worthy of public trust and confidence in the criminal justice system,” Weiser said. It has taken more than two years and millions of people in the streets for over a year to get even this small step forward towards justice.
On August 24, around 10:30 p.m. in 2019, McClain walked home from a convenience store inside a Shell gas station, a few blocks from where he lived. He had gone out to buy an ice tea. McClain had anemia and, as his family explains, wore a ski mask to keep himself warm. Feeling cold is a common symptom of anemia. Someone called 911 to report a guy that seemed “sketchy.” The 911 caller told the dispatcher that this person wasn’t threatening, had no weapons, and did nothing remotely illegal.
As McClain walked home, he was confronted by police. They told the 5’7”, 140-pound McClain to stop. He said they didn’t have the right to stop him—they did not—at which point the police began to restrain him. In body camera footage, McClain says, “Let go of me. I am an introvert. Please respect my boundaries that I am speaking.” Body camera footage shows that McClain does none of the violent resisting officers claimed he did. He’s apologetic and incredibly determined to point out that what is happening does not need to be happening to him.
At the time, District Attorney Dave Young of Aurora, Colorado, told ABC News that he stood by his original decision not to charge anyone in connection to McClain’s death, saying “it’s unfortunate that people feel that by voicing their opinions, that that’s going to change the facts and the law of a certain investigation.” At the time, DA Young cowered behind a trope seemingly only used by prosecutors to defend law enforcement actions that since the “burden of proof” was on him, he couldn’t prosecute successfully. Officers Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt, and Randy Roedema were all reinstated with the force.
Protests continued calling for an independent investigation and were fed by a new wave of activism spurred on by the tragic murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. The police investigation into themselves had predictably been a sham of self-delusion and public deception. The police, having enjoyed a long history of immunity from their abuses of power, couldn’t help but shoot themselves in the foot by further disrespecting the dead Elijah McClain at a memorial for him.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced Attorney General Weiser would conduct a new investigation into the matter. Today’s announcement comes after many months and many tears and a family who has forever lost a child. Weiser said that some of the delays in his investigation came because of the pandemic. While the indictments were reached last week, Weiser said he needed to speak with the McClain family beforehand to explain the results. “Our goal is to seek justice for Elijah McClain, for his family and friends, and for our state. In so doing, we advance the rule of law and the commitment that everyone is accountable and equal under the law. We want you to understand that we are limited in what we can say, and we’ll do our talking in court.”
Sheneen McClain, Elijah’s mother, told Colorado Public Radio, “I hope they get life in prison. To be honest with you, Elijah lost his life. You know, he didn’t grow up being a gang member, robbing banks. He didn’t grow up being a problem to anybody. He was living his life in the most peaceful way he possibly could.”
From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.