Posted on June 26, 2020

Elijah McClain: Colorado Appoints Special Prosecutor to Investigate 2019 Police Killing

The Guardian, June 25, 2020

Colorado’s governor has appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the death of Elijah McClain – a 23-year-old Black man who was put into a neck hold by police in suburban Denver last year – after a petition calling for justice gained almost 3m signatures in just three weeks.

Governor Jared Polis signed an executive order directing the state attorney general, Phil Weiser, to investigate McClain’s death and possibly prosecute those involved. {snip}


Police in suburban Aurora received a call about a suspicious person wearing a ski mask and waving his arms as he walked down a street on 24 August. Police say McClain refused to stop walking and fought back when officers confronted him and tried to take him into custody.

One of the officers put him in a specialized hold, pressing against his carotid artery and cutting off blood to the brain, a practice that has been banned in several places in the wake of Floyd’s death on 25 May under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer and the global protests that followed.


McClain was kept on the ground for 15 minutes, then paramedics gave him 500 milligrams of a sedative to calm him down. McClain suffered cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital and was declared brain dead on 27 August. He was taken off life support three days later.

A forensic pathologist working for the coroner could not determine what exactly led to his death but said physical exertion during the confrontation probably contributed.


Three officers were placed on paid administrative leave while the incident was investigated by Denver and Aurora police, as well as the district attorney’s office.

The district attorney, Dave Young, said in a letter to the then Aurora police chief, Nick Metz, that he could not find indisputable evidence that Aurora officers or others used “unjustified” force. {snip}