AURORA, Colo — A lawsuit has been filed against the City of Aurora and its interim Police Chief Vanessa Wilson regarding the treatment of protesters at a violin vigil event honoring the life of Elijah McClain last month.
Several officers, who are listed as Jane Does and John Does, are also named in the lawsuit.
Aurora "resorted to bullying and violence," according to the lawsuit, at the June 27 event which was held to honor McClain and call for justice for his death.
> Above video: June 27 violin event
McClain died on Aug. 27, 2019 – three days after he went into cardiac arrest following a confrontation with Aurora officers. He was detained after a report of a “suspicious person” in the area. McClain’s family said he had been walking to the store to get iced tea, and would usually wear a face mask when it got cold outside.
Officers used a carotid hold on McClain and first responders later gave him ketamine, a sedative. He went into cardiac arrest in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. A coroner’s report found his cause of death inconclusive, and the 17th District Attorney’s Office declined to file charges against the officers involved.
The lawsuit claims organizers received permission from the City of Aurora to hold a peaceful night of remembrance on the Aurora Municipal Center Great Lawn.
During the event, which the suit says was "completely peaceful", Aurora Police declared the protest "unlawful".
They then, according to the lawsuit, directed a "coordinated force" of officers from multiple agencies to "march toward the peaceful crowd in a totally unjustified show of intimidation."
Under the direction of Aurora Police Department (APD) the officers "indiscriminately deployed chemical agents" the lawsuit claims. It says some "even wielded batons and shot projectiles."
Several days after the vigil, Wilson defined the officers' actions.
At the time, she said officers were trying to protect the peaceful protesters from others who attended the event and were armed with rocks and other weapons.
9NEWS reached out to the city for a response to the lawsuit and received the following statement:
"We haven't been served yet. As soon as we obtain a copy of the complaint from the Court, we will begin analyzing it," said Aurora City Attorney Daniel Brotzman "Since we haven't seen it, only accounts from the media, we will need time to evaluate the claims."
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