Elijah McClain’s parents have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Aurora, Colorado police and paramedics a year after their son’s death.
According to the Associated Press, McClain’s family is suing for both accountability and to share the message that “racism and brutality have no place in American law enforcement.”
“We have filed this civil rights lawsuit to demand justice for Elijah McClain, to hold accountable the Aurora officials, police officers, and paramedics responsible for his murder, and to force the City of Aurora to change its longstanding pattern of brutal and racist policing,” the family said in a statement released by their attorney Mari Newman.
The 23-year-old was walking home on Aug. 24 when a 911 call was placed by someone who described him as a "suspicious person" despite not being armed or having committed a crime. McClain, who is Black, was listening to music and wearing an open-face ski mask at the time due to his anemia, which would sometimes make him feel cold.
APD officers identified as Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt, and Randy Roedema responded to the 911 call and ultimately employed the use of a carotid control hold. McClain vomited repeatedly while cuffed, at one point fainting before later being injected with ketamine by paramedics. McClain went into cardiac arrest and died a few days later.
In the 106-page lawsuit, McClain’s family alleges that Aurora officials violated Elijah’s constitutional rights. “The extended, needless use of excessive force and torture by Aurora Police Department officers and the subsequent injection of a massive ketamine overdose by Aurora Fire Rescue paramedics overwhelmed Elijah’s body. He could not recover,” the suit filed Tuesday reads.
The suit emphasized that McClain’s death did not happen in a vacuum, but as a result of the policies implemented by both APD and AFR. Newman wrote that his death “is part of a larger custom, policy, and practice of racism and brutality, as reflected by its conduct both before and after its murder of Elijah McClain, a young Black man.”
McClain’s death became national news in June, after a petition demanding justice for the 23-year-old pulled millions of signatures. Protests in Aurora erupted, and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests across the country amplified McClain’s story. As of this post, the city has not issued a response to the lawsuit.