City of Aurora agrees to pay $15M settlement after police killed innocent man

“Ms. McClain raised Elijah as a single mother and his death has left an enormous void in her life.”

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In order to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit filed over the death of an innocent, unarmed black man at the hands of five Colorado police officers and paramedics, the City of Aurora has recently agreed to pay a $15 million settlement to the victim’s family.

At 10:30 p.m. on August 24, 2019, the Aurora Police Department received a 911 call concerning a man wearing a ski mask. Around that time, Elijah McClain, 23, was recorded on a surveillance video purchasing iced tea at a convenience store while wearing a black mask because of a blood condition that made him feel cold, according to his family.

At 10:43 p.m., Aurora police officers confronted McClain and immediately assaulted him despite the fact that he had not committed any crime. While in police custody, McClain told the officers, “You guys started to arrest me, and I was stopping my music to listen. Now, let go of me.”

After Officer Randy Roedema falsely accused McClain of grabbing Officer Jason Rosenblatt’s gun, the officers tackled McClain to the ground, used a carotid choke to knock him unconscious, and placed him in handcuffs. When McClain regained consciousness, he began pleading for his life before repeatedly vomiting into his mask, which he was unable to remove while restrained.

A few minutes later, paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Lt. Peter Cichuniec arrived at the scene and immediately diagnosed McClain with excited delirium without speaking to him or physically touching him to check his vital signs. At 10:59 p.m., Cooper injected McClain with a 500 mg dose of Ketamine, without taking his weight into consideration.

At 11:07 p.m., the paramedics informed the officers that McClain no longer had a pulse. Although they were able to resuscitate McClain, he was later declared brain dead and taken off life support less than a week later.

In September, the three police officers and two paramedics responsible for McClain’s death were charged in a 32-count indictment. All five face charges of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

In 2020, McClain’s mother, Sheneen McClain, filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Aurora and the police officers and paramedics involved in her son’s death. The City of Aurora recently agreed to pay $15 million to settle the lawsuit.

“The city of Aurora and the family of Elijah McClain reached a settlement agreement in principle over the summer to resolve the lawsuit filed after his tragic death in August 2019,” Aurora spokesman Ryan Luby said in a statement provided to The New York Post.

“Ms. McClain raised Elijah as a single mother and his death has left an enormous void in her life,” attorneys Qusair Mohamedbhai and Siddhartha Rathod asserted in a recent statement. “While nothing will fill that void, Ms. McClain is hopeful that badly needed reforms to the Aurora Police Department will spare other parents the same heartache.”

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