Petition demanding justice for Elijah McClain surpasses 2 million signatures

An online petition demanding justice for Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old unarmed black man who died last year after he was detained by Colorado police, surpassed more than 2 million signatures on Tuesday.

The petition created earlier this month calls on Adams County District Attorney Dave Young, Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman (R) and the Aurora Police Department to conduct “a more in-depth investigation” and remove the officers involved from duty following the altercation on Aug. 24.

McClain was walking to the convenience store to get an iced tea for his brother when a 911 caller reported a “sketchy”-looking man wearing a mask and waving his arms. The caller, however, said he did not feel like he was in danger, according to the Sentinel Colorado.

McClain’s sister later told a local ABC affiliate, Denver7, that McClain was listening to music and would often wear an open-face ski mask because he “had anemia and would sometimes get cold.” 

The 23-year-old was unarmed and not suspected of committing a crime when he was confronted by the three responding officers around 10:30 p.m. 

At some point, a struggle ensued and an officer accused McClain of reaching for his gun. 

“Let me go. I am an introvert. Please respect my boundaries that I am speaking,” McCain is heard saying in the body camera footage

While McClain was pinned to the grass, police used a carotid hold and applied pressure around his neck until he briefly fainted. McClain proceeded to repeatedly vomit and sob while handcuffed.

At one point, an officer also told McClain, “If you keep messing around, I’m going to bring my dog out, and he’s going to dog bite you.”

First responders were called to assist, and McClain was held down by police officers and injected with a dose of ketamine to sedate him. 

He was loaded into an ambulance after a paramedic determined that he was not breathing, and McClain went into cardiac arrest on his way to the hospital. He was declared brain dead shortly before 4 p.m. on Aug. 27 and died three days later. 

The Adams County Coroner’s Office could not determine whether McClain’s death was caused by accident, homicide or natural causes. An autopsy reportedly listed several contributing factors, including the combination of intense physical exertion and a narrow left coronary artery.

The three responding officers — Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt and Randy Roedema — were immediately placed on administrative leave but returned to normal duty after being cleared of any wrongdoing, according to the Sentinel Colorado.

In November, Young announced that he would not bring any criminal charges against the officers or medics involved in McClain’s fatal arrest. He said there was no indisputable evidence that police officers used “unjustified” force when confronting McClain.

Renewed interest in McClain’s case comes after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed by a former Minneapolis police officer, sparked nationwide protests. 

The former officer, Derek Chauvin, was seen in video footage kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes during his arrest. Chauvin and his colleagues present during the altercation have since been arrested and charged. 

The Sentinel Colorado reported that Aurora-area law enforcement agencies have been flooded with calls and emails regarding McClain’s case this month. 

Sue Lindsay, Young’s spokeswoman, told the outlet that the district attorney’s office has received more than 10,000 emails and 1,000 voicemails asking his office to further investigate the matter.

Young said last week that he does not plan to reopen the case unless new evidence emerges.

The Aurora City Council and city manager have been working to establish a new independent review of how officials responded to the case, 9News reported.

“Currently, we’re considering a team of experts from across the country to be involved and provide insight from different perspectives, but the exact participants have not been selected yet,” Michael Bryant, Aurora’s interim manager of communications, said.

“We are committed to seeing this process move forward quickly to help restore our residents’ trust in the city and its police department,” he added.

McClain was known as an introvert who volunteered his time playing the violin for cats at a shelter, as he believed it soothed them. 

Tags Aurora Black Lives Matter protests Colorado Elijah McClain Elijah McClain George Floyd George Floyd Mike Coffman Mike Coffman police brutality racial injustice

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