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He Went to Get an Iced Tea. His Death Spurred an Outcry

Colo. governor says his office will take closer look at 2019 death of Elijah McClain
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 25, 2020 8:50 AM CDT

(Newser) – Last August, a 23-year-old unarmed black man died after an incident involving the police in Aurora, Colo. Now, Gov. Jared Polis says his office will examine how the state can assist in the investigation into Elijah McClain's death amid renewed public interest in the case, per the Denver Post. "Public confidence in our law enforcement process is incredibly important now more than ever," Polis tweeted Wednesday. "A fair and objective process free from real or perceived bias for investigating officer-involved killings is critical." He added that, after hearing from "many Coloradoans," he has "instructed my legal council to examine what the state can do and we are assessing next steps." The three officers involved—Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt, and Randy Roedema—were initially placed on administrative leave, but Adams County prosecutors declined to file charges, and the three returned to duty. More coverage:

  • The incident: The Cut has a full explainer of what happened on the night of Aug. 24, 2019, when McClain's family says he headed to a local convenience store to pick up some iced tea for his brother. The Aurora Police Department received a call of a "suspicious person" wearing a mask and waving his hands around. When the officers arrived, they tried to arrest McClain, saying that he didn't comply with orders to stop walking. One cop put him in a carotid hold; a paramedic injected him with ketamine to sedate him.
  • What happened next: McClain went into cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital. He died after being taken off life support six days later. McClain's sister later told media that her brother was wearing an open-face ski mask on the night of the incident because he had anemia and was trying to stay warm.

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