Three years after the death of Elijah McClain, the Adams County Coroner’s Office released the amended autopsy to the public, showing that the paramedics gave McClain a lethal dose of ketamine when police restrained him.
The 23-year-old massage therapist was walking home when police forcibly apprehended him after receiving a call about a “suspicious person” wearing a ski mask, which he wore to keep warm. Police alleged McClain resisted arrest, prompting them to put him in a carotid hold.
Colorado paramedics injected the drug after diagnosing McClain with “excited delirium,” according to CNN.
The original autopsy was signed on Nov. 7, 2019, where coroners determined the cause of death as “undetermined” due to insufficient information. However, after body camera footage, witness statements, and other records were released, coroners were able to make their judgment.
“After review of all material available to use at this time, it is my opinion that this 23-year-old, African American male, Elijah McClain, died of complications of ketamine administration following forcible restraint,” Forensic Pathology Consultant Stephen J. Cina stated.
Paramedics administered 500 mg of ketamine to McClain, and according to Cina, that dosage was far beyond the recommended amount for a 5 foot 7 and about 140-pound man. Cina also wrote in the report that McClain was “extremely sedated” after the ketamine was injected. When medical personnel placed him on the stretcher, Cina noticed his “agonal breathing” and believed “respiratory arrest was imminent.”
“Simply put, this dosage of ketamine was too much for this individual, and it resulted in an overdose, even though his blood ketamine level was consistent with a ‘therapeutic’ blood concentration,” the report read. “I believe that Mr. McClain would most likely be alive but for the administration of ketamine.”
Cina said he was alive and responded to “painful stimuli” before the injection. The report also read that McClain was a runner and showed no cardiac symptoms before his death.
The pathologist clarified that there is no evidence that the physical trauma McClain endured contributed to his death.
Cina drafted the report with the help of Chief Coroner Monica Broncucia-Jordon. And the amended autopsy report was signed last year of July.
McClain entered cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital due to the intense amount of ketamine. Doctors declared him brain dead three days later, but he died after his family decided to take him off life support.
The three Aurora police officers, Nathan Woodyard, Randy Roedema and Jason Rosenblatt, were indicted along with two paramedics and are facing manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide charges, and more.
The Aurora police and fire departments agreed on making changes that address their history of racial bias. And in 2021, the city offered the McClain family $15 million to settle a civil rights lawsuit.