The Police’s Original Statement Regarding Elijah McClain Was Different From The Facts


A jury on Tuesday, April 20, 2021, found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murder, a verdict that came nearly a year after he held George Floyd to the ground with a knee to the neck.

On May 25, the Minneapolis Police Department released their statement about what happened.

“[Floyd] was ordered to step from his car. After he got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress,” their statement said.

“At no time were weapons of any type used by anyone involved in this incident.”

The department titled the press release “Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction.”

That nondescript account omits much of what people saw in the now widely-shared video of the incident that was captured by then-17-year-old Darnella Frazier. Her video shows Chauvin holding his knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes as Floyd told officers he could not breathe.

Floyd’s death and others across the country prompted calls for police reform. In Colorado, the death of Elijah McClain gained renewed attention during the racial protests over the summer.

McClain died days after an interaction with Aurora Police on Aug. 24, 2019. A 911 caller claimed that the 23-year-old was acting suspiciously while he was walking home from a convenience store. McClain was wearing a ski mask at the time because he was anemic and had been cold, and the witness reported he had been waving his arms and gesturing.

Police were seen on body camera video throwing the 5-foot-7 and 140-pound massage therapist to the ground. An officer is heard shouting that McClain reached for one of their guns, though the video does not definitively show either way.

McClain himself was unarmed.

Officers also used a now-banned carotid hold to keep McClain restrained. The district attorney said McClain lost consciousness, but regained it and was heard in body camera footage saying, “My name is Elijah McClain… I was just going home.”

Paramedics administered 500 mg of ketamine to sedate him, and officers were later told he had no pulse in the back of an ambulance and needed CPR.

McClain died days later. He had never committed a crime, and the initial 911 caller said he did not appear to be dangerous.

It took nearly 48 hours for Aurora to release a statement about what happened to McClain. A look back at the statement shows officers were more forthright in their press release than the Minneapolis department but neglected context.

The news release describes the suspicious person call that led three Aurora officers to Billings Street that night.

“On August 24, 2019, at 10:32 p.m. the Aurora Police Department received a “suspicious person” call. The caller reported an adult male was walking on Billings Street near East Colfax Avenue, wearing a ski mask and waving his arms at the caller.

Officers arrived in the area and contacted a male wearing a ski mask. The male would not stop walking down the street from the officer. The male resisted contact, a struggle ensued, and he was taken into custody.”

What the release did not say is that officers had their hands on McClain within 10 seconds, with no evidence he had broken the law.

The release also mentioned McClain’s “agitated mental state” – leading officers to request a medic for professional medical attention.

The statement did not name the drug they used, only calling it a “standard medication routinely utilized to reduce agitation.”

“… Due to the level of physical force applied while restraining the subject and his agitated mental state, officers requested Aurora Fire Rescue (AFR) and Falck Ambulance respond to render professional medical attention.

According to AFR, consistent with their accepted protocol, a standard medication routinely utilized to reduce agitation was administered and reduced the exhibited anxiety. Several minutes later during the transport to the hospital, the patient suffered a cardiac arrest, and life-saving measures were initiated. He regained a pulse and is currently being treated at a local hospital.”

The public later learned about the ketamine and discovered paramedics used more than was recommended for McClain’s size after he was on the ground and handcuffed.

McClain would be declared brain dead a day after the statement.

The full press release can be viewed here.