Monday Dec 5, 2022
Monday Dec 5, 2022

Black man died due to a powerful sedative


Nepalnews
2022 Sep 24, 9:18, DENVER
Demonstrators move along Interstate 225 after stopping traffic during a rally and march over the death of 23-year-old Elijah McClain, Saturday, June 27, 2020, in Aurora, Colo. (AP Photo)

A Black man died after a police encounter in a Denver suburb in 2019 because he was injected with a powerful sedative after being forcibly restrained, according to an amended autopsy report publicly released Friday.

Despite the finding, the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old massage therapist, was still listed as undetermined, not a homicide, the report shows. McClain was put in a neck hold and injected with ketamine after being stopped by police in Aurora for “being suspicious.” He was unarmed.

The original autopsy report that was written soon after his death in August 2019 did not reach a conclusion about how he died or what type of death is was, such as if it was natural, accidental or a homicide. That was a major reason why prosecutors initially decided not to pursue charges.

But a state grand jury last year indicted three officers and two paramedics on manslaughter and reckless homicide charges in McClain’s death after the case drew renewed attention following the killing of George Floyd in 2020. It became a rallying cry during the national reckoning over racism and police brutality.

The five accused have not yet entered pleas and their lawyers have not commented publicly on the charges.

A makeshift memorial stands at a site across the street from where Elijah McClain was stopped by Aurora, Colo., Police Department officers while walking home, before family members hold a news conference, Friday, July 3, 2020, in Aurora, Colo. (AP Photo)
A makeshift memorial stands at a site across the street from where Elijah McClain was stopped by Aurora, Colo., Police Department officers while walking home, before family members hold a news conference, Friday, July 3, 2020, in Aurora, Colo. (AP Photo)

McClain dying as a result of compressional asphyxia, a type of suffocation, from officers putting pressure on his body while restraining him. He was struck by one passage in the city’s review citing the ambulance company’s report that its crew found McClain lying on the ground on his stomach, his arms handcuffed behind his back, his torso and legs held down, with at least three officers on top of him.

That scene was not captured on body camera footage, the report said, but much of what happened between police was not because the officers’ cameras came off soon after McClain was approached. The cameras did continue to record where they fell and captured people talking.

However, another pathologist, Dr. Deborah G. Johnson of Colorado, said McClain’s quick reaction to ketamine suggests that it was a cause of McClain’s death, but she said its use cannot be separated from the impact that the police restraint may have had. McClain may have had trouble breathing because of the restraint and having less oxygen in your system would make the sedative take effect more quickly, she said.

Both thought the death could have been labeled as a homicide — a death caused by the actions of other people — which they pointed out is a separate judgment from deciding whether someone should be prosecuted with a crime for causing it.

McClain got an overdose of ketamine, Johnson said, noting that the paramedics were working at night when it is hard to judge someone’s weight.

A demonstrator carries an image of Elijah McClain during a rally and march in Aurora, Colo., June 27, 2020. (AP Photo)
A demonstrator carries an image of Elijah McClain during a rally and march in Aurora, Colo., June 27, 2020. (AP Photo)

The updated autopsy was released Friday under a court order in a lawsuit brought by Colorado Public Radio.

McClain’s death fueled renewed scrutiny about the use of the ketamine and led Colorado’s health department to issue a new rule limiting when emergency workers can use it.

The outside investigation commissioned by the city faulted the police probe into McClain’s arrest for not pressing for answers about how officers treated him. It found there was no evidence justifying officers’ decision to stop McClain, who had been reported as suspicious because he was wearing a ski mask as he walked down the street waving his hands. He was not accused of breaking any law.

Police reform activist Candice Bailey had mixed emotions about seeing the amended autopsy.

READ ALSO:

Black man police encounter Denver suburb 2019 powerful sedative autopsy report Elijah McClain ketamine George Floyd
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