Three former Aurora, Colo., police officers have lost a bid to get their jobs back after being fired in connection to posed photos reenacting a chokehold near the site where Elijah McClain was pinned down by police.
The city’s Civil Service Commission upheld the firings of Officers Erica Marrero, Kyle Dittrich, and Jason Rosenblatt. A fourth officer resigned before the others were kicked out of the department.
“I fully supported [Aurora Police] Chief Wilson’s firing of Officers Dittrich, Marrero, and Rosenblatt, and am encouraged that the Civil Service Commission agreed and upheld her decision,” Aurora City Manager Jim Twombly said Tuesday in a statement, the local Fox affiliate reported.
The photos that led to the officers’ dismissal were taken on Oct. 20, 2019, near a memorial set up for McClain — a black man who died after he was stopped by police on his way home from a convenience store last summer.
As police confronted McClain they placed him in a chokehold, ignoring as he cried in pain and even vomited. He was then sedated with ketamine and later died. He was not suspected of any crime.
One picture taken by Dittrick shows him in a fake carotid control hold by Officer Jaron Jones. Marrero stands next to them. All three are smiling.
Rosenblatt does not appear in the photo but after receiving a copy over text, the officer responded, “haha.”
The photos came to light after an Aurora police officer reported them to the department’s internal affairs unit.
At the time, Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson, who was behind the officers’ termination, called their actions “reprehensible,” adding, “that is why they no longer work here.”
On Tuesday she said she appreciated the support from the commission in moving to keep all three off the department.
“Aurora police officers are expected to serve our community with dignity, respect, and a sense of humanity,” Wilson said in a statement.
She added: “This supportive decision of the Civil Service Commission enables us to take another step forward on our path to a new way in rebuilding trust with our community through transparency and accountability.”