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Police in Colorado did not have 'reasonable suspicion' sufficient to stop 23-year-old Elijah McClain, report finds

Julia Cardi, The Gazette on

Published in News & Features

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — An independent investigation of the 2019 death of Elijah McClain found that Aurora Police Department officers who stopped McClain did not have reasonable suspicion of criminal activity and characterized McClain’s behavior in ways that conflicted with video and audio evidence of the encounter, a report released Monday showed.

Paramedics from Aurora Fire and Rescue also did not examine or question McClain before they injected him with ketamine. And there was not a clear transition of care or command authority from police to fire, the report found.

McClain, a 23-year-old Black man, died after being placed in a carotid hold by police and sedated with ketamine by paramedics on Aug. 24, 2019.

McClain was initially stopped by Officer Nathan Woodyard, who was then joined by Officers Jason Rosenblatt and Randy Roedema.

After McClain refused officers’ orders during what the report said should have been a consensual encounter, police put McClain in a now-banned choke hold and knelt on his body until he vomited and lost consciousness.

When Aurora Fire Rescue personnel arrived, paramedics diagnosed McClain with excited delirium and gave him 500 milligrams of ketamine, a sedative, reports have found.


When he was put in the ambulance, he was not breathing and had no pulse.

McClain was pronounced brain dead Aug. 27 and taken off life support Aug. 30.

The Aurora City Council ordered the external investigation of McClain’s death in July.

The 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute the officers. However, Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson fired several officers, including Rosenblatt, who mocked McClain’s death in a selfie.


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