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Elijah McClain: Mom relieved he 'is no longer labeled a suspect' following investigation

White police officers murdered 23-year-old McClain, but they were never brought to a justice due to a lack of evidence. A new report has changed that.

Elijah McClain: Mom relieved he 'is no longer labeled a suspect' following investigation
Image Source: Getty Images/ Rally Held In Colorado Demanding Justice For Elijah McClain. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo)

Trigger Warning: Police Brutality, Racism

On Monday, Sheneen McClain cried as she read an independent investigative report that claimed that Colorado police officials who stopped, frisked, and restrained her son Elijah McClain did not have the legal basis to do so. Her son passed away in August 2019, a mere three days after he was stopped by Aurora police, who illegally placed him in a carotid hold and injected him with ketamine. Elijah was only 23-years-old. Despite his death, the officers in question were never held liable as "prosecutors lacked evidence" to prove that their use of force was unjustified, District Attorney Dave Young wrote in a June 2020 letter. Now, the investigative report is expected to bring some closure to the McClain family, CNN reports.

 



 

 

"It was overwhelming knowing my son was innocent the entire time and just waiting on the facts and proof of it," she said in an interview with the news outlet. "My son's name is cleared now. He's no longer labeled a suspect. He is actually a victim." Through tears, the mother admitted that she has watched the body camera footage of her son's death repeatedly as she never had the chance to say goodbye. McClain shared, "I looked at everything that happened to him because it's my responsibility. Even in death, he's still my son. His name, his legacy. All that matters."

 



 

 

After several months of protests, the 157-page report provides some relief to those who have expressed their discontent with the lack of accountability police departments have, particularly when police brutality is inflicted upon Black folks. This is especially true as the report provides a rather critical view of police and fire rescue teams in the Denver suburb. The report questions claims about the victims' "superior strength," criticizes the emergency medical responder team's decision to inject him with ketamine, and condemns the police department's lack of action following the incident. "At the time of the (ketamine) injection, Mr. McClain had not moved or made any sounds for about one minute," the report reads. "In addition, EMS administered a ketamine dosage based on a grossly inaccurate and inflated estimate of Mr. McClain's size."

 



 

 

In addition to the report, McClain's attorneys released a statement on Monday praising the investigative report and the "sham investigation" originally carried out by the police department. The attorneys affirmed, "Aurora is responsible for Elijah's tragic death by virtue of its employees' unlawful and unconscionable actions." The mother reiterated the sentiment in the same statement. "Elijah believed in humanity and that humanity mattered," she stated. "Inhumane humans are a problem and we must stop unjust laws." Elijah's father, LaWayne Mosley, added, "This report confirms what we have been saying from the start. The Aurora police and medics who murdered my son must be held accountable."

 



 

 

The independent investigation and ensuing report was paid for by the Aurora City Council. The investigation was conducted by a team of experts, including Jonathan Smith, executive director of the Washington Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs; Roberto VillaseΓ±or, the former Tucson, Arizona, police chief; and Dr. Melissa Costello, a practicing emergency medicine physician and EMS medical director based in Mobile, Alabama. Using the recorded 911 call, officer body camera footage, reports and narratives, and medical records, the panel carried out the investigation. It is unclear if the report will have ramifications for the police officers who caused the young man's death.