A photo of Elijah McClain who died in a hospital after an August 24 incident involving Aurora police.
See the police encounter that led to Elijah McClain's death
02:46 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

The City of Aurora, Colorado, has agreed to pay $15 million to the family of Elijah McClain to settle the civil rights lawsuit filed against the city in the wake of the 23-year-old’s violent arrest and subsequent death in 2019.

The settlement was first announced in October but was finalized after a mediation hearing with McClain’s family members in US District Court on Friday.

The multi-million-dollar payout is the latest in a series of high-profile police misconduct settlements in which cities have paid millions of dollars to surviving family members.

In Minneapolis, Minnesota, the family of George Floyd received a $27 million settlement. In Louisville, Kentucky, the family of Breonna Taylor, who was shot dead in a police raid, received a $12 million payment.

“No amount of money can change what happened or erase the pain and heartbreak experienced by the family over his loss,” Aurora City Manager Jim Twombly said in a statement issued to CNN. “The settlement is an important step in moving forward with the city’s ‘New Way’ plan to restore the community’s trust in public safety, while avoiding a protracted legal process that does not serve the best interests of the city or the family.”

Aurora will pay $5 million of the settlement out of the city’s general fund, while the other $10 million will be covered by the city’s excess liability insurance policy. The Aurora City Council approved the $15 million at a meeting in July.

In August 2019, McClain, 23, was stopped by police while walking home from a store, placed in a carotid choke hold and then injected with ketamine. His mother, Sheneen McClain, filed a federal lawsuit in 2020 against the City of Aurora and the police officers and fire department members involved in her son’s death.

Last month, her attorneys announced the case had been settled in principle, resolving all claims in the federal civil rights case.

Attorneys for Sheneen McClain confirmed the $15 million figure to CNN and issued a statement: “No amount of money will ever bring Elijah back to his mother. Ms. McClain would return every cent for just one more day with her son. There will be an allocation hearing in the near future to determine the distribution of the settlement between Ms. McClain, who raised Elijah as a single parent, and the biological father.”

“Hopefully this sends a message to police everywhere that there are consequences for their actions,” LaWayne Mosley, Elijah’s father, said in a statement. “I hope Elijah’s legacy is that police will think twice before killing another innocent person.”

Spurred by protests in Aurora and a viral online petition, Gov. Jared Polis announced a reexamination of the case last year. Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser was appointed as special prosecutor and opened a grand jury investigation into the case in January.

In September, a Colorado grand jury indicted three police officers and two fire department paramedics involved in McClain’s death. Each was indicted on charges of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide as part of a 32-count indictment.

The Colorado Attorney General’s Office launched a 14-month investigation into the Aurora police and fire departments. The investigation found the police department had a pattern of practicing racially biased policing and excessive force and had failed to record legally required information when interacting with the community.

Earlier this week, the city and the state of Colorado reached an agreement on the terms of a consent decree to resolve Aurora Police Department and Aurora Fire Rescue issues identified in a September “Patterns and Practices” report.

The consent decree covers four areas identified in the Attorney General’s report: Racially Biased Policing, Use of Force, Documentation of Stops, and Ketamine and Other Chemical Restraints.