AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — Even though it’s been more than two years since Elijah McClain’s death, the news of indictments against the police officers and paramedics in his death marks the beginning of the case for those involved.
Many in the law enforcement community worry what impact the indictment will have on recruiting new officers and on keeping the experienced officers who are thinking about leaving the force.
Here’s what leaders in law enforcement and FOX31’s legal analyst had to say about the case.
Criminal defense attorney Chris Decker
“This case is unique in so many different ways,” FOX31 legal analyst Chris Decker said. “It’s unique in terms of the underlying facts. It’s unique in terms of the path through the criminal justice system. It’s unique in terms of its timing in society and the issues of police reform and police accountability that is happening.”
“This is an extremely high-profile case,” Decker said. “This made national media offer reasons that are quite understandable this is a tragic, tragic situation involving a young man who really didn’t need to die. And the question here is what was behind that death was a criminal if it was criminal what crimes were committed if it wasn’t criminal what we can learn from it.”
“Nobody has been convicted. These are just charges these officers are presumed innocent but it is significant that the grand jury has come together, listened to the evidence presented to them and handed down indictments and charges for these very, very serious crimes,” Decker said.
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser
Weiser asked for patience.
“All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt our department has the solum duty to prosecute this case make no mistake we recognize that this case will be difficult to prosecute these types of cases always are. Our goal is to seek justice for Elijah McClain for his family and friends and for our state in so doing we advance the rule of law and the commitment that everyone is accountable and equal under the law. Many of you will have questions as this case proceeds. We understand that and we want you to understand that we are limited to what we can say and will do our talking in court,” Weiser said.
Aurora City Manager Jim Twombly
Twombly echoed Weiser’s sentiment.
“We respect the judicial process and ask that everyone else do the same,” Twombly said in a written statement.
Aurora Police Union
“We believe our officers are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. We 100% stand behind them,” President Marc Sears told FOX31’s Deborah Takahara.
Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson
“I know this has been a long-awaited decision for Ms. McClain and her family,” Wilson said. “This tragedy will forever be imprinted on our community. We continue to offer our condolences for the loss of Elijah, and we will continue to cooperate with the judicial process.”
Aurora Fire Rescue Chief Fernando Gray
“For more than two years our community has grieved the death of a precious life,” Gray said. “Our community demanded answers and continually questioned the circumstances surrounding Elijah’s death, and we are committed to fully cooperating as the judicial process moves forward. We want to share again our deepest expression of sympathy to the family members and friends of Elijah McClain.”