New details into the investigation of the death of Elijah McClain show that Colorado police and paramedics made several mistakes in the case. The most egregious of these is the fact that the initial stop of the 23-year-old Black man lacked a legitimate cause.
An NBC News report revealed that when interviewed, “none of the officers articulated a crime that they thought Mr. McClain had committed, was committing or was about to commit.”
The report continued to discuss the unnecessary use of the chokehold and injection of ketamine used on McClain during the stop.
“Based on the record available to the panel, we were not able to identify sufficient evidence that Mr. McClain was armed and dangerous in order to justify a pat-down search,” the report said. “The panel also notes that one officer’s explanation that that Aurora officers are trained to ‘take action before it escalates’ does not meet the constitutional requirement of reasonable suspicion to conduct (a stop or frisk).”
The report continued, “Aurora Fire appears to have accepted the officers’ impression that Mr. McClain had excited delirium without corroborating that impression through meaningful observations or diagnostic examination of Mr. McClain.
“In addition, EMS administered a ketamine dosage based on a grossly inaccurate and inflated estimate of Mr. McClain’s size. Higher doses can carry a higher risk of sedation complications, for which this team was clearly not prepared.”
McClain was 5-foot-7, 140-pounds and given an amount of ketamine that would have been proper for a man weighing 190 pounds, according to the report.
The report was explicit in describing all the details of McClain’s death, but “stopped short,” according to NBC News in identifying “implicit bias” as a cause for the stop that led to McClain’s death.
The case gained attention last summer following the murder of George Floyd when people took to the streets in protest against police brutality and systemic racism.