Attorney says Aurora PD ‘tortured’ man who later died; questions use of ketamine

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AURORA, Colo. -- Sheneen McClain says she has been numb since her son died in August after an altercation with a group of Aurora police officers.

A coroner has yet to rule on the cause and manner of Elijah McClain’s death, but Sheneen says she watched his final moments of consciousness on body camera footage.

“He knew he was going to do die,” she said. “I could hear it in his voice. I could hear it and see it in his body language. He didn’t think they were going to let him live.”

Last week, the Aurora police chief shared the 911 call and some of the body camera footage from McClain’s interaction with police with McClain’s parents and their attorney, Mari Newman. The footage has not been released publicly.

“It is no exaggeration to say that Aurora police tortured Elijah. The video shows that the police were nothing short of sadistic, brutalizing and terrorizing a gentle, peaceful man as he lay there begging. It is disgusting,” Newman said.

Newman and Elijah’s family and friends held a rally near the Aurora Police Department Tuesday afternoon, demanding the release of the footage and requesting changes to police procedures and training protocol.

She said the officers threatened to bring a police dog to bite Elijah even after he was already subdued on the ground.

Newman told the FOX31 Problem Solvers that three of the body cameras fell off the officers’ bodies during the altercation, but she could still hear McClain begging to be let go. She said she heard him say he is so peaceful, he wouldn’t even kill a fly.

“We fully understand the need for transparency throughout this entire investigation and we can appreciate the seriousness of this matter,” wrote Officer Matthew Longshore, a public information officer for the Aurora Police Department, in a joint police press release with Aurora Fire Rescue.

Police approached McClain on Aug. 24 after someone reported a suspicious man running in the area, wearing a ski mask. They said a “struggle ensued,” and they later called emergency medical responders to transport McClain to the hospital. They injected him with a sedative to reduce his agitation.

McClain went into cardiac arrest in the ambulance and later died.

According to Newman, she heard someone on the recordings request ketamine, a sedative used to for patients who exhibit excited delirium, to be administered.

“It kind of puts fear in my heart for the rest of the world,” said Sheneen McClain. “If this is used to control people or put fear in others, how are we ever going to get justice for the things they do wrong?”

In Colorado, medical crews must obtain a special waiver from the state health department to use it in the field.

No one would confirm that was the drug that McClain received.

However, the FOX31 Problem Solvers learned the Aurora Fire Department started using the medication in January 2019. Since that time, they’ve administered the drug seven times, including once on Aug. 24, 2019, the night McClain struggled with police.

The police department cautioned that the coroner’s report has yet to be completed.

“From the beginning, Chief (Nick) Metz ordered an investigation at the level consistent with officer-involved shootings pursuant to Senate Bill 15-219 by having a multi-agency team comprised of members from the Denver Police Department, Aurora Police Department and the 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. That investigation continues,” said Longshore.

All of the officers who were on paid administrative leave after the altercation have returned to work except one who is recovering from an unrelated injury.

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