Chain of command during McClain death investigation involved 2 Aurora police chief candidates

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AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) – The man who oversaw the Aurora Police Department’s Investigations Bureau during the investigation into Elijah McClain’s death is competing against his former immediate supervisor for a chance to become the next chief of police.

Commander Marcus Dudley said he was the man in charge of the Investigations Bureau when the incident was being reviewed. 

“It was tragic for the family, and I understand that they are angry and that they are frustrated,” he said during a recent town hall for four chief candidates.

McClain, 23, died last August after police officers used the carotid hold on him and after paramedics injected him with ketamine. He did not have a weapon and was not committing a crime when police approached him.

The district attorney, who reviewed the investigation presented by the police department, did not file any criminal charges against the first responders involved.

“I know people want answers. I wish I could provide more answers,” he said during the town hall.

Dudley reported directly to Vanessa Wilson, who was the police department’s Metro Division chief at the time.

Wilson, who is also vying for the top police job, is currently the Aurora Police Department’s interim chief. She reported to the deputy chief, Paul O’Keefe, who reported to the chief of police, Nick Metz, both of whom have since retired.

“What we can do as a police agency is change the way we do business,” Wilson said during the town hall.

“I need to know whose hands were tied. What was the agenda and motive behind the decisions Commander Dudley made, the decisions Chief Wilson made? What was their agenda? What motivated them to make those decisions to make those calls?” said Thomas Mayes, a community activist who was recently appointed to the City’s new police task force.

Mayes said he has interacted with both chief candidates in the past and plans to share his personal thoughts about the candidates with the city manager, who will choose the next chief – with the approval of City Council – sometime in July.

Two other candidates from outside of Colorado — Alexander Jones from Baltimore and Avery Moore from Dallas — are also hoping to win the chief role.

Mayes said the decisions made during the McClain investigation are important in his decision for the best person to move the city forward.

“We don’t want to do the same thing all over again…I want to see the whole story. I want them to be totally transparent, so we know …the role they played,” said Mayes. “Sometimes we start whacking at a problem at the bottom when the real problem is all the way at the top.”

“The police have never ever been seen favorable in the African American community in Aurora. Never,” said Mayes.

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