AURORA, Colo. — The family of Elijah McClain and members of the Aurora community came together Saturday for a rally after the 17th Judicial District Attorney announced that officers involved in an altercation with the 23-year-old will not face state criminal charges. McClain eventually died at the hospital after the altercation but a cause of death has not been determined.
“This is emblematic of a system that will not take accountability, that hides under secrecy,” said Mari Newman, the McClain family’s attorney. “Friday night closed door press conferences don’t work in this community. Shame on you Aurora for trying to pull one over.”
Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz says they received the letter from the District Attorney just hours before Friday night’s press conference – at 3:35 PM.
“I didn’t want to hold this declination letter for several days and create concern in the community that I was holding on to information intentionally,” Metz said.
Police say someone called 911 back in August and reported a suspicious person running around while wearing a ski mask. Three officers confronted McClain and a struggle ensued. During the altercation, Aurora police say McClain tried to reach for an officer’s gun.
Officer eventually put McClain into a carotid control hold before crew members from Aurora Fire injected him with the sedative Ketamine.
Some of the body camera footage was also released Friday even though they fell off of all three officers during the altercation.
“How all of them managed to miraculously shed their body cameras – that just doesn’t happen by accident,” Newman said.
Chief Metz says he has issues with that claim. He says it’s not uncommon for cameras to fall off during a struggle. He also says the department is looking at other solutions that prevent them from falling off.
“I can assure you the last thing they want is to be put under a cloud of suspicion that they just simply took off a camera and threw it to the ground,” Metz said.
Metz has asked a review board to determine if the officers acted improperly and he’s asked for a tactical review which allows law enforcement experts from other agencies to weigh in on what happened.
McClain’s family lawyer says they plan on filing a federal civil rights lawsuit.