Department of Justice, FBI considering investigation into Elijah McClain’s death

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DENVER (KDVR) — The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced that it is considering an investigation into the death of Elijah McClain after an incident with Aurora police.

McClain, 23, was wearing a mask the night of Aug. 15, 2019 when someone called 911 to report that he seemed suspicious. McClain often wore the mask while jogging, according to his family and friends. He was not committing a crime and was unarmed when police approached him.

>>Elijah McClain death: What we know so far

FOX31 was the first to track down the store clerk and the surveillance video from the store where McClain was purchasing refreshments prior to being confronted by police. 

It took more than two months for the coroner’s office to publicly announce that it could not determine a cause and manner of death with certainty. The police officers used a carotid hold on McClain, and that could not be ruled out as a contributing factor. The paramedics administered ketamine to sedate McClain, and an adverse reaction to the drug could not be ruled out.

According to a release from the United States Department of Justice, investigations of this sort are not usually made public while they are ongoing.

“However, there are specific cases in which doing so is warranted if such information is in the best interest of the public and public safety. Recent attention on the death of Elijah McClain warrants such disclosure,” the release said.

Specifics about the potential investigation have not been released, but the FBI is working with the Denver Division of the US Attorney’s Office for Colorado and the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division has been notified.

“The matter is ongoing, and we are in the process of gathering additional evidence from the Aurora Police Department and other parties. To date, the City of Aurora has been cooperating,” the release said.

The DOJ also acknowledged Aurora Police Department’s internal investigation into a picture involving officers that was taken where McClain was incapacitated.

“We are gathering further information about that incident to determine whether a federal civil rights investigation is warranted,” the release said.

Mari Newman, the lawyer representing McClain’s family, issued the following statement Tuesday night:

“I am both surprised and pleased to hear that a civil rights investigation is being considered by the FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. The Aurora Police Department has a long and sordid history of both brutality and racism, and a comprehensive civil rights investigation is long overdue. I invite these agencies to reach out and will happily provide information to assist in this critically important investigation.”

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