Aurora hiring more people for independent Elijah McClain investigation

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AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) – Aurora’s city manager announced two additions to its independent Elijah McClain investigation during Thursday’s Public Safety, Courts and Civil Service Policy Committee meeting.

Roberto Villaseñor and Dr. Melissa Costello will join Jonathan Smith on the team that will re-examine the events leading up to McClain’s death in August 2019.

Villaseñor is a law enforcement expert, according to Michael Bryant, a spokesperson for the City. Costello will serve as the emergency medicine expert who can analyze the medics’ actions — including the use of ketamine — prior to McClain’s death.

According to Costello’s resume, she is an emergency physician with extensive experience working in various parts of the country, including Mississippi and Alabama. Her resume also indicates she is a Clinical Appeals Consultant for the AirMethods Corporation in Denver and a Medical Officer in the Trauma Critical Care Team at the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Villaseñor’s resume shows he has 35 years of experience working in a large metropolitan police force, with more than 15 years working at the chief level. Most recently, according to his resume, he served as the principle consultant for and co-founder of the global consulting group, 21CP Solutions LLC, which is also working with the Aurora police department to evaluate its practices related to civil rights and public safety.

He served as the chief of police for the Tucson Police Department between 2009 and 2015, according to his resume.

Costello, who is based in Mobile, Alabama, said she brings 20 years of experience an emergency physician and was among the first group of emergency physicians to be board certified in emergency medical services. She said she is coming into this investigation “fairly clean,” without already having looked, extensively at details of McClain’s case.

“My role is really to offer expertise and advice both on the appropriateness of the actions that were taken, and then ultimately, if there is guidance I can offer to say, ‘this was done really well, but it can always be better and here’s how.’  I think the goal in any encounter of this nature is that you want every person involved – whether they are police, fire, EMS, paramedics, bystanders, or the person who has been involved with the police as far as being taken into custody – you want everyone, if it’s possible, to go home safe and uninjured, and that’s really the goal,” Costello said. “And so, if we can facilitate finding the best way to do that in your community and any others, that’s my goal.”

Costello said she works clinically and raises her family, but this is the only project of this nature that she has taken on outside of those activities, so it is an absolute priority for her. 

Villaseñor was unavailable to speak with FOX31 on Friday.

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