Kieran Nicholson, Denver Post, November 13, 2019
Adams County District Attorney Dave Young found no criminal actions by Aurora police during his investigation into the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old man who died at a hospital after a violent struggle with officers.
Police at a news conference Friday night showed officers’ body camera footage from the Aug. 24 incident, footage posted on the department’s YouTube page.
The video is violent and disturbing and “viewer discretion is advised,” police said at the news conference.
The body camera footage on YouTube includes views from the first three responding officers — Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt and Randy Roedema. All of their cameras were knocked off of their uniforms during the struggle. Video from officers who responded later is also part of the package.
Officers attempted to stop McClain, who was walking in the 1900 block of Billings Street near East Colfax Avenue, after someone called 911 to report a “sketchy” man flailing his arms and wearing a ski mask.
McClain, who routinely wore masks when outside because he had anemia and became cold easily, according to family, refused to stop for officers when they first contacted him. “I have a right to go where I am going,” he said.
An officer got close to McClain and touched him. “Stop tensing up, dude. Stop tensing up,” the officer said. McClain said: “I am going home. … Leave me alone,” and “Let me go. No, let me go. I am an introvert. Please respect my boundaries that I am speaking.”
A struggle escalated, and three officers wrangled McClain toward a lawn, eventually taking him down. During the struggle, Roedema claimed that McClain tried to grab for Rosenblatt’s holstered gun.
One camera goes dark, but audio can still be heard. McClain cried, pleaded and whimpered. “Ouch, that really hurts,” he said. “I’m so sorry. I don’t have a gun. I don’t do that stuff.”
As McClain, who weighed 140 pounds, was held on the ground, Woodyard applied a “carotid control hold” around McClain’s neck. McClain was handcuffed with his hands behind his back. He vomited several times.
Elijah McClain was declared “brain dead” on Aug. 27 at a local hospital. “Intense physical exertion and a narrow left coronary artery contributed to death,” according to an autopsy report released earlier. The night of the incident, after McClain was handcuffed, authorities injected him with ketamine to sedate him. He suffered cardiac arrest during the ambulance ride to a hospital.