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State health department launches investigation into ketamine use following Elijah McClain case

The investigation began after the health department received numerous complaints in late June, according to a spokesperson.

AURORA, Colo — A spokesperson for the state health department responded to a 9NEWS inquiry regarding the Elijah McClain case saying they are opening an investigation into the administration of ketamine.

The spokesperson said the department received "numerous complaints" and "additional information" about the drug's use in June of this year.

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 of Billings Street and East Colfax Avenue. 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. 

RELATED: Anesthesiologist calls for 'national conversation' about forced ketamine use following McClain case

Officers used a carotid hold on McClain and first responders said he wouldn't calm down, so AFR pushed a 500 mg dose of ketamine in his shoulder.

Ultimately, the coroner couldn't pinpoint a specific cause of death, but didn't rule out that McClain could have had a negative reaction to the drug.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the state health department confirmed there is a new, ongoing investigation related to ketamine.

"The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) received numerous complaints, beginning on [June 24], that provided additional information regarding a ketamine administration in August 2019," said Peter Myers, a spokesperson for the Health Facilities and Emergency Medical Services department within CDPHE in response to the 9NEWS inquiry on the McClain investigation.

"The department launched a complaint investigation, which is currently ongoing," Myers added.

He said he could not provide any other details at this time about the complaints or new information that was received.

RELATED: No criminal charges will be filed after man dies following struggle with Aurora police

Last November, District Attorney Dave Young declined to file charges against the officers involved in the call.

RELATED: Aurora City Council officially approves independent investigation into Elijah McClain case

Records obtained by 9NEWS show Aurora Fire Rescue (AFR) has used the sedation drug ketamine on patients 25 times since November 2018, and they typically administer a dose of 400 to 500mg.

Ketamine is a sedative that Colorado's paramedics use on out of control patients.

Following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minnesota earlier this year, McClain's death has received renewed attention.

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