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Death Of Elijah Mcclain

6 day(s) ago

Elijah Jovan McClain
Born(1996-02-25)February 25, 1996
DiedAugust 24, 2019(2019-08-24) (aged 23)
OccupationMassage therapist
Known forDied after apprehension by police and injected with 500mg ketamine as a sedative by paramedics

Elijah Jovan McClain, a 23-year-old African-American massage therapist in Aurora, Colorado, was killed after an altercation with police while walking home on the evening of August 24, 2019. An Aurora citizen reported to police that McClain was acting suspiciously wearing a ski mask, although the caller also indicated that he did not believe anyone was in danger, and that he believed McClain was unarmed. The three police officers who were involved in the incident[1] said that their body cameras were knocked off during a struggle with him. While he was being forcibly held to the ground by police, paramedics administered ketamine to McClain to sedate him. While being transported to the hospital, McClain allegedly suffered a cardiac arrest. McClain died seven days later after being removed from life support. McClain's autopsy was inconclusive.[2][3][4][5]

On June 24, 2020, after a social media outcry and Aurora lawmakers' requests for a new, third-party investigation into McClain's death,[6] Colorado Governor Jared Polis announced his administration would reexamine the case.[7]


External video
Audio recording of the 9-1-1 call made on McClain and police body camera footage of McClain being apprehended.  on YouTube (3 hour 8 min 30 sec)

On the evening of August 24, 2019, an Aurora citizen called 9-1-1 after seeing McClain walking down the street wearing a ski mask and flailing his arms. Friends of McClain interviewed after the incident speculated that this arm-flailing was most likely just dancing, as he is believed to have been listening to music at the time of the call.[8] The same caller affirmed during the call that he did not believe McClain was armed and that he did not believe any person, including McClain, was in immediate danger. According to police, when they confronted McClain, he resisted and attempted to reach for an officer's gun during the struggle. An attorney representing McClain's family said officers involved slammed McClain into a wall immediately after apprehending him.[9]

Officers Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt and Randy Roedema held McClain on the ground for 15 minutes. While he was detained McClain was clearly in distress and vomited several times, for which he apologized and said: "I'm sorry, I wasn’t trying to do that, I can't breathe correctly."[10] Officer Nathan Woodyard applied a chokehold around McClain’s neck. One officer threatened he would have his police dog bite McClain as he lay handcuffed and pinned to the ground.[11] Paramedics injected him with 500 mg of ketamine as a sedative to reduce his agitation. McClain suffered two cardiac arrests while being taken to the hospital. He was pronounced brain dead on August 30, 2019.[6]

The body cameras on at least one of the police officers (Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt and Randy Roedema) became unattached from their uniforms during the encounter, but the audio can still be heard. During the recording, when one of the body cameras was still attached to an officer, another officer can be heard telling him to move his camera. The attorney representing McClain's family accused the officers of purposely taking off their body cameras to support a false allegation that McClain reached for a gun, though this claim was never supported by any evidence during the subsequent investigation.[11]

According to a police report, the coroner could not determine the exact cause of death and therefore listed McClain's death as undetermined. Despite this, the same coroner stated that it may have been an accident resulting from an idiosyncratic drug reaction, could have been homicide if the officers’ use of the carotid hold contributed to his death, or that his death also might have been caused by an asthma attack.[12][13][14]


On August 28, 2019, all three Aurora Police officers involved at the scene were put on paid administrative leave. Adams County District Attorney Dave Young later determined that none of the three officers Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt and Randy Roedema committed any criminal acts, and no charges were filed against them.[15] The police body camera footage and audio of the initial 9-1-1 call were released publicly by the Aurora Police Department on November 22, 2019.[16]

In February 2020, Aurora City Manager Jim Twombly announced that he would begin a Critical Incident Review on the case to investigate how police and fire departments reacted during the incident. He also announced an audit on the body cameras of the Aurora Police Department to further investigate how well Aurora police officers comply with body camera policies.[17]


A protest was held at the Aurora Municipal Center during November 2019 in response to the District Attorney's decision not to file charges.[15][18]

Following the killing of George Floyd, another protest was held in honor of Elijah McClain on June 6, 2020, at the Aurora Municipal Center. McClain's mother, Sheneen McClain, attended the protest.[19][20] In June 2020, a memorial mural was painted in honor of McClain in Denver, Colorado, alongside murals of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.[21]

A petition calling for the investigation of Elijah McClain's death at the hands of Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt and Randy Roedema to be reopened received over 3 million signatures within weeks of being posted online.[22] A GoFundMe created by Sheneen McClain to cover the costs of Elijah's funeral has received over $2,000,000 in donations.[23]

On June 26, 2020, a spokesperson for the city of Aurora announced that all three officers involved in the incident have been reassigned to working in non-enforcement capacity in an attempt to protect their safety. Woodyard and Rosenblatt were moved on June 13, while Roedema was moved on June 20.[24]

See also


  1. Snowdon, Quincy; Writer, Sentinel Staff (November 24, 2019). "Adams County DA: No criminal charges against Aurora police, medics in death of Elijah McClain". Sentinel Colorado. Retrieved June 23, 2020.
  2. Snowdon, Quincy. "Elijah Mcclain Tragedy Illustration And Anger Ripples Through Social Media".
  3. Phillips, Noelle. "Controversial Police Deaths In Colorado". Denver Post.
  4. "Body Worn Camera Regarding the In-Custody Death of Elijah McClain". Aurora Police.
  5. "Aurora man to be taken off life support after confrontation with police left him brain dead". The Denver Post. August 30, 2019. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  6. 1 2 Snowdon, Quincy; Writer, Staff (June 11, 2020). "Aurora lawmakers demand new Elijah McClain death query; chief mandates new police procedures". Sentinel Colorado. Retrieved June 21, 2020.
  7. "Colorado governor's office to examine case of Black man who died in police custody after millions demand justice". CNN. June 25, 2020. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  8. Stringer, Grant (October 28, 2019). "UNLIKELY SUSPECT: Those who knew Elijah balk at Aurora police account of his death". Sentinel Colorado. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  9. Roberts, Michael (October 2, 2019). "Torture, Murder Claimed in Elijah McClain Aurora Police Death". Westword. Retrieved June 21, 2020.
  10. Tompkins, Lucy (June 25, 2020). "Here's What You Need to Know About Elijah McClain's Death" via
  11. 1 2 Nicholson, Kieran (November 23, 2019). "No criminal charges against Aurora officers in death of Elijah McClain". The Denver Post. Retrieved June 23, 2020.
  12. Snowdon, Quincy; Stringer, Grant; Writers, Staff (November 9, 2019). "CORONER: Cause of Elijah McClain death unclear; homicide by Aurora police not ruled out". Sentinel Colorado. Retrieved June 21, 2020.
  13. "Elijah McClain Autopsy Report". Scribd. November 12, 2019. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  14. Snowdon, Quincy; Stringer, Grant; Writers, Staff (November 9, 2019). "Adams County DA: No criminal charges against Aurora police, medics in death of Elijah McClain". Sentinel Colorado. Retrieved June 27, 2020.
  15. 1 2 ""Murderers! Murderers!": Elijah McClain's supporters outraged Aurora officers won't be charged". The Denver Post. November 24, 2019. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  16. Lampen, Claire (June 23, 2020). "What We Know About the Killing of Elijah McClain". The Cut. Retrieved June 24, 2020.
  17. Politics, ALAYNA ALVAREZ Colorado. "WATCH | Body-worn camera video from Elijah McClain's encounter with Aurora police". Colorado Springs Gazette. Retrieved June 24, 2020.
  18. "Aurora officers on leave after altercation leaves man hospitalized". FOX31 Denver. August 29, 2019. Retrieved June 23, 2020.
  19. "Rally in memory of Elijah McClain shows police brutality protests are moving closer to home". Denverite. June 7, 2020. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  20. "Elijah McClain's Mother Pleads For Concrete Change Following Protests". June 7, 2020. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  21. "Denver artists create murals featuring Elijah McClain, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor". KIII. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  22. Yancey-Bragg, N'dea. "Aurora police officers under investigation after being photographed near where Elijah McClain died". USA TODAY. Retrieved June 30, 2020.
  23. Snowdon, Quincy; Writer, Staff (June 15, 2020). "Elijah McClain tragedy, illustration and anger ripples across social media". Sentinel Colorado. Retrieved June 23, 2020.
  24. "Officers involved in Elijah McClain's death re-assigned in "effort to protect" them". Retrieved June 27, 2020.


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