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Elijah McClain playing violin

DENVER (KDVR) — Elijah McClain’s mother said she feels “completely validated” after learning a state investigation found patterns and practices of racially biased policing and excessive force at the Aurora Police Department and that Aurora Fire Rescue repeatedly engaged in the illegal administration of ketamine.

“It means that everything I felt from the beginning — I’m completely validated,” Sheneen McClain said. “Elijah never should have been stopped. The fact that it took all this — this many years — to get accountability for practices that Aurora, Colorado, has been undergoing for so long proves that I was right.”

McClain has filed a civil lawsuit against the City of Aurora for her son’s death after he was roughed up by police officers and sedated with ketamine by paramedics in 2019.

The officers and medics involved in the death are each facing manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges.

Sheneen McClain, r m
Sheneen McClain, the mother of Elijah McClain, a young man who died after a stop by police in Aurora, Colo., and has spurred investigations of police practices while galvanizing calls for police reforms, is shown in the office of her attorney, Qusair Mohamedbhai, Wednesday, March 3, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

‘Bad things happen to good people to wake us up’

During the altercation, Elijah McClain, who was walking home and not committing a crime when officers approached him, pleaded with officers that he would never hurt a fly and told them that he was an “introvert” and “just different.”

He was handcuffed and being held down by police when paramedics sedated him with ketamine.

Elijah McClain

McClain knows her son’s tragic death has made an enormous impact on the legal action that is occurring in Colorado and the sweeping law enforcement reform around the country.

“Why my son? Why him?” McClain said. “I literally come down to — he was the only one, you know. He was the only one that could have held his demeanor so nicely. He was the only one that could have proved how wrong and corrupted Aurora, Colorado’s police department is,” she said. “Not just them, but the paramedics, too. Administering ketamine after my son was already brutalized, tortured, not even moving, and handcuffed? None of that made sense to me.

“I truly believe bad things happen to good people to wake us up to what’s really going on in this world. Our humanity matters on so many levels, but everybody’s not treating everybody with kindness, and we need to get those that are cruel and evil out of control so that they are not inflicting harm on other people’s lives,” she said.

McClain’s attorney, prominent Denver civil rights lawyer Qusair Mohamedbhai, said the findings released Wednesday were not surprising to him.

“It should not have taken the loss of Elijah McClain in order for the government to finally get its act together and look at this issue comprehensively,” he said.