Elijah McClain was a young black man who grew up in Aurora, Colorado, who suffered a heart attack after being put in a chokehold by authorities as a result of the encounter in August 2019.
Elijah Mclain was a massage therapist who used to play violin for shelter kittens on his lunch break because he thought that the kittens were lonely. Colorado Music described him as a “quirky young man, a pacifist, a vegetarian who enjoyed running and he was known to put a smile on everyone’s face”.
Although his case is somewhat similar to that of George Floyd, McClain’s case did not receive extensive media coverage at the time. The Black Lives Matter movement now demands justice, and the hashtag #JusticeforElijahMcClain has been circulating on Twitter. People call out for a re-investigation into the case.
McClain’s sister told The Cut that the young man would sometimes wear a ski/runner’s mask because he was anemic and would often get cold, and one August night he was walking home from the convenience store with his mask on. He was approached by the police that were responding to a call about “a suspicious man” in the area. What’s strange is that the police claimed that what followed was “a struggle”, but almost nothing was caught on body camera because, as reported, all of the officer’s body cameras fell off during the incident. McClain, just like George Floyd, was held in a carotid hold and was given a shot of ketamine by paramedics. However, he suffered a heart attack on the way to the hospital and passed three days later.
The 23-year-old Elijah was unarmed. His last words as the officers held him have since been shared online, and they will truly break your heart.
The Aurora Police Department posted the full body camera footage of the entire evening’s events on YouTube, three months after what happened to McClain, and District Attorney Dave Young sent a letter to Aurora police chief Nick Metz which stated:
“Based on the investigation presented and the applicable Colorado law, there is no reasonable likelihood of success of proving any state crimes beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. Therefore, no state criminal charges will be filed as a result of this incident.”
This is one of the most heart wrenching things I’ve ever heard. How DARE these men walk free when the blood of this innocent, compassionate, sweet soul is on THEIR HANDS. #ElijahMcClain #JusticeForElijahMcClain
— hayley (@hayley_marisa) June 21, 2020
Elijah McClain has not been forgotten, though, and the public outcry over the case has grown significantly over the past weeks. People call for accountability, and a petition calling for a more in-depth investigation into the case has since been signed by more than 2.6 million people.
You can sign the petition here.
City Manager Jim Twombly agreed to an independent investigation of the case, but the initial attorney that has been commissioned to lead the investigation is a former cop who specialized in defending police departments in liability cases.
The Aurora city council said in a statement that “an attorney with a long career in law enforcement that specializes in defending municipal police departments from liability claims doesn’t qualify, in our minds, as a neutral review.”
On August 24th of last year, 23 y/o Elijah McClain, a massage therapist who loved animals & often played violin for stray cats at Petco, was detained on his way home from picking up an iced tea for his brother in Aurora, Colorado.
He was listening to music & dancing. pic.twitter.com/MWNycEpnqW
— Padma Lakshmi (@PadmaLakshmi) June 24, 2020