Elijan McClain

Elijah McClain is shown in a family photo. He died days later after a struggle with Aurora police on Aug. 24, 2019.

The city of Aurora and employees of the Aurora Police Department and Aurora Fire Rescue deny any wrongdoing in the death of 23-year-old Elijah McClain in 2019, according to the civil lawsuit filed by McClain’s family.

McClain, a young Black man, was killed after being placed in a chokehold by police and sedated by fire rescue paramedics Aug. 24.

Police were responding to a 911 call that described McClain as "suspicious" while he walked home from a convenience store because McClain was wearing a face mask and moving his arms. 

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants, in part, used excessive force, denied equal protection and failed to ensure basic safety and adequate medical care.

"The death of Elijah McClain is a tragedy; however, this tragedy was not caused by any acts or omissions of the APD Defendants,” the APD defense statement said.

“APD Defendants deny that they used excessive force on Mr. McClain in violation of the Fourth Amendment, that they denied him equal protection of the law under the Fourteenth Amendment and that they caused his death by battery or neglect."

According to the plaintiff’s statement, police officers approached McClain as he was walking home and demanded he stop, which McClain refused, saying he had the right to walk home.

Officers grabbed McClain and threw him to the ground, accusing him of reaching for an officer’s weapon. An officer held McClain in a now-banned chokehold until he vomited and lost consciousness.

McClain had not committed any crime and did not have a weapon. In body cam footage, he can be heard telling officers his name and that he was trying to walk home.

While detained, officers pushed their weight on top of McClain and dug their knees into him as he said he couldn’t breathe, the document said. When McClain moved from the pain, he was threatened with tasers and attack dogs.

When AFR personnel arrived, they diagnosed McClain with excited delirium and administered 500 mg of ketamine to sedate him.

While McClain was being prepared for transport in the ambulance, paramedics noticed was not breathing and didn't have a pulse. Lifesaving protocols including CPR were initiated.

McClain never regained consciousness. He was pronounced brain dead on Aug. 27 and taken off of life support on Aug. 30.

The AFR defense statement said they “deny any negligent, intentionally tortious, or otherwise unlawful conduct in connection with their treatment of Plaintiff McClain.”

AFR claims that the paramedics’ actions “were conducted in good faith and with the belief that their actions were lawful, reasonable, and consistent with their duties and obligations...”

The ketamine dose given to McClain was 175 mg higher than he should have received based on his weight, according to the plaintiff’s statement.

The plaintiffs also allege that McClain shouldn't have received the excited delirium diagnosis as he didn't exhibit the symptoms of paranoia, hallucinations, incoherent speech, hyper-aggression, increased strength or extreme agitation.

The doctor who helped AFR apply for a state waiver to use ketamine in certain circumstances is also listed in the lawsuit. The doctor is responsible for the policy of administering a 500 mg dose when a patient’s weight can’t be estimated.

Mari Newman, a civil rights lawyer and attorney for the McClain family, said the parties filed the scheduling order and it's one of the first times parties set forth their legal positions officially.

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