The mother of Elijah McClain, a Black man who died days after a violent confrontation with police in 2019, has settled her federal civil rights lawsuit against Aurora, Colorado, her attorneys said Monday, October 18, 2021.
No additional details are available about the settlement in Sheneen McClain’s lawsuit. Her attorneys, Qusair Mohamedbhai, Siddhartha H. Rathod, Loren M. Brown, and Daniel A. Wartell, said only that “allocation of the proceeds” between Sheneen McClain and Elijah McClain’s father, Lawayne Mosley, were being determined.
The suit alleged that the city, three police officers, two paramedics and the medical director of Aurora Fire Rescue violated McClain’s civil rights when a chokehold was used during the confrontation and he was injected with ketamine.
McClain, 23, was subjected to “brutal force” and then sedated for a dubious medical condition called “excited delirium,” the suit said.
“Elijah was listening to music, enjoying the short walk home from the corner store with some iced tea when Aurora police officers grabbed, tackled, and assaulted him,” the lawsuit said of the confrontation on Aug. 24, 2019.
Authorities have said officers believed McClain posed a threat to officers.
Three officers responding to a call of a suspicious person wearing a mask stopped McClain as he walked home from a store. His family said he wore a mask because of a blood condition that often made him feel cold.
McClain told officers that he was an introvert and asked them to “please respect the boundaries that I am speaking,” according to audio from police body camera recordings.
Officers grabbed him after questioning, and a chokehold was applied. One of the officers said he believed McClain had reached for a holstered service weapon during a struggle.
During the confrontation, McClain told police, “I can’t breathe, please,” which was recorded on police video.
After he was handcuffed, arriving paramedics injected him with ketamine, a hallucinogenic anesthetic. Seven minutes later, he went into cardiac arrest, according to a prosecutor’s report.
McClain died at a hospital three days later. The cause of death was not determined.
“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,” a report commissioned by the City Council concluded early this year.
The man’s death sparked national protests as part of the Black Lives Matter movement.
A state grand jury indicted three officers and two paramedics last month on manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, and other charges.
Aurora Officers Randy Roedema and Nathan Woodyard have been suspended without pay indefinitely, and Officer Jason Rosenblatt was fired.
Rosenblatt was accused of responding to a text message that included imagery of officers mocking a chokehold near a memorial for McClain with the words “ha ha.”
Records indicate that the officers have a court date on Nov. 1. The court schedule for the paramedics who were charged could not be accessed.
The Aurora Police Association has stood by the officers, saying they did nothing wrong. “The hysterical overreaction to this case has severely damaged the Police Department,” it said.
The group did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the settlement.
The Aurora Fire Fighters Protective Association did not immediately respond to an inquiry about the indictment and the settlement.
Last year, Colorado became the first state to end “qualified immunity” that generally shields individual officers from legal claims.