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Elijah McClain’s Family Settles Lawsuit With Aurora, Colorado Over His Death

The family of Elijah McClain has reached a settlement with the city of Aurora, Colorado in a federal civil rights lawsuit over his in-custody death. McClain died of a heart attack after being injected with a tranquilizer by paramedics during an encounter with police where he was being restrained.

On Aug. 24, 2019, Aurora Police responded to a call about a man wearing a ski mask and waving his arms around in a suspicious manner. When police confront McClain can be heard saying in body-camera footage: “I’m an introvert. Please respect my boundaries.” One officer tells him, “Relax or I’m going to have to change this situation.”

Officers then tackled him and placed him in a carotid hold, which reduces blood flow to the brain. In the body-camera footage, McClain can be heard gasping for breath and saying, “I’m so tired.”

The Aurora fire department was called, and paramedics injected McClain with the tranquilizer ketamine. He had a heart attack on the way to the hospital and was taken off life support days later. He was 23-years-old when he died.

McClain’s family filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in August of 2020.

The lawsuit stated in part: “Aurora’s brutality denied Elijah almost his entire adult life, a life of bright promise both for him and for the many people with whom he would have shared his light and compassion.”

In September, a jury indicted three police officers and two fire department paramedics on charges that included manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

The death of Elijah McClain led to a 14-month investigation into Aurora police and fire departments conducted by the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. The investigation concluded that the police department had a history of practicing racially biased policing, excessive force, and had failed to record legally required information when interacting with the community.

The investigation also revealed that the fire department had a history of administering ketamine illegally. Ketamine is used by medical professionals as an anesthetic, according to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, and it’s also used illegally to get high.

On Monday, the attorney’s for Elijah’s mother, Sheneen McClain, confirmed they reached an unspecified settlement with the city, “resolving all claims raised in her federal civil rights lawsuit.”

“The court will now determine allocation of the proceeds between Ms. McClain, the parent who raised Elijah McClain by herself, and Lawayne Mosley, the absent biological father,” the attorney added.

The lawyer for LaWayne Mosley, Elijah’s father, released this statement on behalf of Mosley: “Nothing will bring back his son Elijah, who he loved dearly, but he is hopeful that this settlement with Aurora, and the criminal charges against the officers and medics who killed Elijah, will allow his family and the community to begin to heal.”

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