Colorado Police Officers Seen Near Elijah McClain Memorial Under Investigation
Multiple Colorado police officers are under investigation after photos showed them near Elijah McClain’s memorial, some even reportedly reenacting the chokehold used to kill McClain last year, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.
The interim police chief in Aurora, Colorado, Vanessa Wilson, said that the officers had been placed on administrative leave and are under investigation.
“All involved officers were immediately placed on administrative leave with pay in non-enforcement capacities,” Wilson said.
It is still uncertain when the photos were taken or what the officers were doing near the memorial. Lt. Chris Amsler said that the police are investigating whether or not the photos show any violation of department policies and if a punishment should be given.
“This investigation will be publicly released in its entirety promptly upon its conclusion,” Wilson said. “This will include reports, photographic evidence obtained, officer’s names, and my final determination which can rise to the level of termination.”
The recent exposure to McClain’s case has pushed Colorado Gov. Jared Polis to reopen the investigation into the 23-year-old’s death.
In 2019, McClain was stopped by police for suspicious activity and tackled to the ground upon not responding to their calls. McClain may have been wearing headphones which could have impeded his ability to hear the police.
McClain was then put into a carotid hold by police, which cuts off blood circulation to the brain. Paramedics administered ketamine, a sedative, into McClain and he was heard saying on camera, “I just can’t breathe correctly.” McClain went into cardiac arrest on his way to the hospital and died days later.
The Aurora Police Department initially concluded that the officers acted within acceptable conduct and the district attorney did not prosecute them.
Last week, the department announced the removal of the three officers, Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt, and Randy Roedema from patrol duty. This action comes after police arrived on the scene of a vigil for McClain’s death in riot gear and where they used pepper spray on peaceful protestors. Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman has called for a special city council meeting to address the actions taken by the officers at that vigil.
“The tragic death of Elijah McClain brought out many peaceful people over the weekend who want their voices heard, and unfortunately there were disruptions that overshadowed the broader message,” Coffman said. “I look forward to working with [the] City Council to understand more and make sure we are upfront and transparent with our residents.”
Similar vigils were held in later days that were not interrupted by police interference.
Read the full report here.