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Aurora Police, Fire defendants deny wrongdoing in Elijah McClain civil lawsuit

Defendants associated with the Aurora Police Department deny that they used excessive force on Elijah McClain, documents show.

AURORA, Colo. — In a civil lawsuit filed by the family of Elijah McClain, the defendants listed – which include the city of Aurora and about a dozen police and fire employees – deny any wrongdoing in the events leading up to the death of the 23-year-old in 2019, according to a scheduling order in the case.  

In the document, a statement from the defendants who are or were employees of the Aurora Police Department (APD) says in part: 

"The death of Elijah McClain is a tragedy; however, this tragedy was not caused by any acts or omissions of the APD Defendants. APD Defendants deny that they used excessive force on Mr. McClain in violation of the Fourth Amendment, that they denied him equal protection of the law under the Fourteenth Amendment and that they caused his death by battery or neglect."

On Aug. 24, 2019, APD said officers were called to a report of a "suspicious person." 

Body camera footage shows the confrontation quickly escalates from officers yelling "stop!" to McClain being thrown on the ground.

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.

RELATED: The Elijah McClain case: A timeline of events — one year later

The plaintiffs list the following legal claims in the lawsuit: 

  • Excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment 
  • Denial of equal protection in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment 
  • Failure to Ensure Basic Safety and Provide Adequate Medical Care and Treatment in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment 
  • Substantive Due Process – Deprivation of Liberty – Forcible Administration of Medication in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment 
  • Excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment 
  • Battery Causing Wrongful Death 
  • Negligence Causing Wrongful Death 

A statement in the scheduling order from two defendants from Aurora Fire Rescue (AFR) listed in the lawsuit says, they "deny any negligent, intentionally tortious, or otherwise unlawful conduct in connection with their treatment" of McClain. It continues to say all actions by the defendants "were conducted in good faith and with the belief that their actions were lawful, reasonable, and consistent with their duties and obligations as Firefighter Paramedics for the City of Aurora under local, state and federal law and regulations."

The statement says McClain was exhibiting symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of excited delirium when paramedics arrived and, consistent with established protocols for treatment of agitated and/or combative patients, 500 milligrams of ketamine was administered intramuscularly into McClain’s deltoid muscle. 

While McClain was being treated inside the ambulance and prepared for transport to the hospital, paramedics noticed was not breathing and didn't have a pulse, the statement reads. Lifesaving protocols including CPR were immediately initiated. 

A doctor who in 2018 helped AFR apply for a State of Colorado waiver for use of ketamine under certain circumstances is also listed in the lawsuit. 

The scheduling order lists the plaintiff's preliminary estimates of damages including more than $243,000 in medical bills and $1,814,900-$3,508,900 in lost future earnings.

Mari Newman, a civil rights lawyer and attorney for the McClain family said the parties recently filed the scheduling order and it's one of the first times parties set forth their legal positions officially.

>> Read the full lawsuit below. 

RELATED: Aurora bans use of ketamine until Elijah McClain investigation is complete

RELATED: Aurora's independent investigation into the Elijah McClain case is beginning

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