Aurora still working to form new independent review of Elijah McClain’s death

A petition demanding justice for McClain has reached nearly 2 million signatures as of June 23.

AURORA, Colo. — A national petition demanding that the city of Aurora further probe the death of Elijah McClain and take the officers involved off the streets has reached two million signatures, but the city still hasn’t found a new team to handle the independent investigation into the August 2019 incident.

“The City Council and City Manager are working together to identify a new independent review of the city’s response in the Elijah McClain case,” Michael Bryant, Aurora’s interim manager of communications, wrote in an email to 9NEWS. “Currently, we’re considering a team of experts from across the country to be involved and provide insight from different perspectives, but the exact participants have not been selected yet.

“We are committed to seeing this process move forward quickly to help restore our residents’ trust in the city and its police department.”

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This comes after Attorney Eric Daigle – the former “independent investigator” for the case — was removed earlier this month due to concerns that he would not be unbiased. Daigle, a former police officer in Connecticut, has defended law enforcement agencies in the past. 

McClain was taken off life support on Aug. 30, 2019 – about a week after the 24-year-old went into cardiac arrest following a struggle with Aurora officers, who contacted him after receiving a call of a suspicious person in the area. 

McClain’s family said at the time, he was walking to get an iced tea for his brother and would usually wear a face mask when it got cold outside.

Officers used a carotid hold when restraining McClain, a practice that has since been banned in the city of Aurora. McClain was also given a sedative by Fire Rescue to calm him down.

The officers involved in the incident were cleared of any wrongdoing earlier this year.

McClain’s family issued the following statement after the officers were cleared:

Aurora has just released a statement to the media claiming that officers followed Aurora’s policy and training when they killed Elijah McClain, an innocent young man who was not suspected of any crime, had no weapon, had no criminal history, and had done absolutely nothing wrong. He was just trying to walk home.

APD officers confronted this innocent, unarmed man by immediately going hands on, grabbing Elijah, throwing him down, applying a carotid choke hold—twice—and continuing to inflict multiple other types of force even after Elijah’s hands were cuffed behind his back. As Elijah lay crying, begging, and then vomiting, an APD officer threated to unleash a dog to attack him. Outrageously, Aurora has concluded that this force was “within policy and consistent with training.” The community should be horrified. 

Aurora keeps promising “transparency,” but tonight’s late hour press release is yet another example of Aurora doing its best to keep Elijah’s family and the community in the dark.

We are disappointed, but not surprised, that once again, Aurora has condoned its officers’ killing of an unarmed black man.

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. 

RELATED: Denver artists create murals featuring Elijah McClain, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor

A Denver artist recently painted a mural of McClain as well as others who have died in-custody. 

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