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Family of Elijah McClain files lawsuit against Aurora

The family of Elijah McClain has filed a civil rights lawsuit against Aurora officers, medics who responded to the scene in 2019.

AURORA, Colo. — Family members of Elijah McClain have filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Aurora.

McClain died on Aug. 27, 2019 – five 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 was wearing a ski mask because he was anemic.

Mari Newman, the attorney for McClain's family, said last month that his family was considering suing the City of Aurora. The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in United States District Court for the District of Colorado. 

"We have filed this civil rights lawsuit to demand justice for Elijah McClain, to hold accountable the Aurora officials, police officers and paramedics responsible for his murder, and to force the City of Aurora to change it longstanding pattern of brutal and racist policing," Newman said.

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.

"A reasonably careful medical provider would not have injected Mr. McClain with any ketamine, much less the excessive quantity the AFR Defendants intentionally used, because there was no medical or other justification for the use of ketamine at the time," the complaint alleges. 

The office of 17th Judicial District Attorney Dave Young cleared the officers involved in detaining McClain of any wrongdoing. 

The City of Aurora last month announced plans to hire a team to complete an independent investigation into the death of McClain. City council decided the new investigation will be done by a panel instead of one person, and approved the scope of that investigation. 

The team won't determine if the officers should face charges but will instead review if police officers or firefighters broke department policies and what changes might be needed.

Interest in the investigation into McClain's death has garnered national attention following the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and ensuing nationwide protests, which brought attention to police brutality and systemic racism.

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