The family of Elijah McClain filed a civil rights lawsuit Tuesday against the city of Aurora, Colorado, in federal court.
“Aurora’s unconstitutional conduct on the night of August 24, 2019, 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,” the lawsuit says.
McClain, 23, was stopped by three White officers last August as he walked home from a nearby convenience store. After McClain resisted officer contact, a struggle ensued, and an officer placed McClain in a carotid hold – or chokehold – and he briefly lost consciousness, according to an overview of the incident police provided earlier this year.
McClain began struggling again once he was released from the hold, the report said. When paramedics arrived, they administered the drug ketamine to sedate McClain, the report said. McClain suffered a heart attack while in the ambulance and was declared brain dead three days later, the district attorney said in a letter.
The officers were placed on administrative leave following McClain’s death, but later were reinstated after prosecutors declined to file charges. In June, Gov. Jared Polis responded to public outcry by announcing that his administration was reexamining the case.
The lawsuit also names several members of the Aurora Police Department and Aurora Fire Rescue as defendants.
The filing lists nine claims of relief, including excessive force; denial of equal protection; failure to ensure basic safety and provide adequate medical care and treatment; substantive due process – deprivation of liberty – forcible administration of medication; battery causing wrongful death; and negligence causing wrongful death.
“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 it longstanding pattern of brutal and racist policing,” McClain family attorney Mari Newman said in a press release announcing the filing.
When reached for comment, a spokesperson for the city of Aurora said they had not been served and could not comment on the filing until they have had time to review it.