AURORA, Colo. — The August 2019 death of Elijah McClain has now made international news as Black Lives Matter protesters across the U.S. have called for justice for the 23-year-old, who died of cardiac arrest after an encounter with the Aurora Police Department (APD).
The officers involved in McClain’s death were cleared of wrongdoing earlier this year, but the Colorado attorney general has now been appointed as a special prosecutor, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Justice (DOJ) are eying a federal civil rights investigation.
Here's a look at all of 9NEWS’ coverage of McClain’s death, from the first story to where the investigation stands now.
Aug. 24, 2019: Elijah McClain encounters Aurora Police
Just after 10:30 p.m., Aurora Police said officers were called to the area of Billings Street and East Colfax Avenue on a report of a "suspicious person."
McClain was wearing a face mask at the time -- something his family said he did often when it was cold out because he was anemic. The 5'7" and 140 pound massage therapist had been walking to a nearby convenience store to pick up a drink. He had not committed a crime, and the initial 911 caller said he did not believe McClain was dangerous.
Body camera footage shows the confrontation quickly escalate from officers yelling "stop!" to McClain being thrown on the ground. One of the officers is heard shouting that McClain was reaching for his gun, but body camera footage doesn't definitively show him doing so.
Officers used a now-banned carotid hold (or chokehold) to keep McClain restrained. The District Attorney said McClain lost consciousness, but regained it and was heard in body camera footage saying "my name is Elijah McClain ... I was just going home." Paramedics administered 500 mg of ketamine to sedate him, and officers were later told he had no pulse in the back of an ambulance and needed CPR.
Aug. 27, 2019: Elijah McClain is pronounced dead
Three days after arriving at the hospital, the 23-year-old who used to play violin for cats at the shelter is declared brain dead.
Aug. 30, 2019: Elijah McClain is taken off life support
McClain was an organ donor, according to the coroner's report.
Sept. 30, 2019: The family of Elijah McClain calls for an independent investigation
A lawyer representing McClain's family called for the Aurora Police Department (APD) to release the body camera footage involved in the case, as well as the 911 call and dispatch transmissions. The family also asked that an independent investigator probe the case, and that the officers responsible be prosecuted.
In response, Aurora Police released this statement:
"From the beginning, Chief Metz ordered an investigation at the level consistent with officer-involved shootings pursuant to Senate Bill 15-219 by having a multi-agency team comprised of members from the Denver Police Department, Aurora Police Department and the 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. That investigation continues."
Nov. 12, 2019: Elijah McClain's autopsy report is released
The autopsy report had little insight into how McClain died.
“Intense [physical] exertion and a narrow left coronary artery,” were listed in the report as contributing factors to his death. Blood toxiocology was negative for all substances except marijuana and the sedative ketamine, which was administered by EMS on scene, according to the report.
"The decedent was violently struggling with officers who were attempting to restrain him," the report said. "Most likely the decedent's physical exertion contributed to his death."
Nov. 22, 2019: APD announces no criminal charges against the officers involved in McClain's death
Dave Young, the 17th judicial district attorney, said he would not file charges against the officers involved in McClain's death. Then-Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz said the officers involved had been placed on administrative leave during the investigation, but would be returning to work.
Metz said he intended to put together an advisory team to review the department's use of force policies.
Nov. 23: Elijah McClain's family protests the DA's decision
Friends and family of McClain held a news conference demanding justice. His mother, Sheneen McClain, said "if we don't change regardless of color, regardless of spiritual beliefs, we're going to end up right here."
"If you heard him screaming please stop, I can't breathe, that hurts, I didn't do anything – you won't ever forget that," said April Jones, a friend of Elijah McClain.
"Anybody who knew Elijah McClain knew he was one-of-a-kind," she said. "He made it his goal to always make you smile before he left the room.”
Feb. 6, 2020: Review board clears officers involved in McClain's death
APD said based on all the available information, the Force Review Board (FRB) concluded that the officers were called to the area to investigate a suspicious person. Officers had a lawful reason to contact McClain. The force applied during the altercation to include the carotid control hold and the force applied during the altercation was within policy and consistent with training.
“The loss of Mr. McClain’s life is tragic, and we continue to offer our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and all those impacted by this loss, “ interim APD Chief Vanessa Wilson said at the time.
June 2, 2020: Amid protests, Colorado lawmaker presents plan aimed at holding officers accountable
The bill, which will be introduced on Wednesday, would create a new special investigations unit within the Colorado Attorney General's Office to investigate "the actions or inaction of a peace officer who may have contributed to a person's death or serious bodily injury," according to a draft version of the bill.
The legislation would allow the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board to revoke the certification of a law enforcement officer if they're convicted of or plead guilty to inappropriate use of force.
June 9, 2020: Aurora bans the use of chokeholds, vows to independently investigate McClain's death
Spurred by days of protests regarding police brutality following the death of George Floyd, APD said it has banned the use of carotid holds.
The city also said it hired attorney Eric Daigle to lead the independent investigation into McClain's death. Council members expressed concerns Daigle couldn't be impartial because he had previously represented police departments.
June 10, 2020: Eric Daigle is removed from independent investigation
"This week, Mayor Coffman and the three members of our Council Public Safety Policy Committee asked for a new independent investigator regarding the Elijah McClain case. I hear and understand Council’s concerns—as well as the community’s—about the individual that was hired to conduct the investigation. Therefore, I have canceled Mr. Daigle’s contract and will be meeting with the Council as soon as possible to determine our next steps in initiating a new review," Aurora City Manager Jim Twombly said in a statement provided to 9NEWS.
June 23, 2020: Petition for justice for Elijah McClain reaches millions of signatures
A nationwide Change.org petition asking for an independent investigation into McClain's death and that the officers involved be held accountable garnered millions of signatures in a matter of days as the case began to attract attention from national news outlets.
June 24, 2020: Governor Polis asks his legal team to see what the state can do
Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) asked his legal team if the state can take action in investigating McClain's death.
June 26, 2020: Officers involved in McClain's death reassigned in department
The three Aurora Police officers involved in the arrest of Elijah McClain were taken off the streets and moved to other duties, the department confirmed.
“This was done in an effort to protect those officers,” Det. Faith Goodrich, a spokesperson for the Aurora Police Department (APD), wrote in an email to 9NEWS.
Officers Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt and Randy Roedema have all been moved to largely administrative duties.
June 25, 2020: Governor Polis assigns special prosecutor investigate McClain's death
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser has been appointed the special prosecutor who will investigate McClain's death.
If the investigation reveals it is warranted, Weiser will be able to prosecute the officers involved.
June 27, 2020: Musicians gather in Aurora to protest McClain's death
A group of protesters that included violinists honored McClain in Aurora, but the demonstration turned into a confrontation with police after the department said some agitators threw water bottles and sticks at officers.
Police used pepper spray in an attempt to clear the crowd.
June 29, 2020: Aurora Police say officers are being investigated for snapping photos depicting choke holds at the site where McClain died
Three Aurora police officers allegedly snapped photos while they put one another in choke holds at the location where Elijah McClain got into a fatal struggle with officers, 9Wants to Know confirmed.
The photos were taken in October 2019.
The officers involved were placed "on administrative leave with pay in non-enforcement capacities" during the internal affairs investigation.
June 30, 2020: FBI, DOJ announce they are considering federal civil rights charges in the McClain case
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the Denver Division of the FBI announced they have been looking into the death of Elijah McClain after a struggle with the Aurora Police Department last year.
In a joint statement, the agencies said they began reviewing the facts in the McClain case for a potential federal civil rights investigation in 2019.
RELATED VIDEOS: The Elijah McClain case