Aurora officers on leave after altercation leaves man hospitalized

Problem Solvers
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This story was written in August of 2019 and contains outdated information. Click here for the latest on Elijah McClain’s death and the on-going investigation.

AURORA, Colo. — Some Aurora police officers are on paid administrative leave after a weekend altercation with a man left him clinging to life.

“I am not happy that somebody was seriously injured and fell ill after an interaction with public safety first responders,” said Nick Metz, the Aurora police chief.

According to Metz, officers responded to a call of a “suspicious” man wearing a ski mask who was running in a neighborhood near Billings Street and Evergreen Avenue on Saturday evening.

The FOX31 Problem Solvers questioned whether it is illegal to wear a ski mask while running at night.

“It is suspicious circumstances and I do believe the officers had reasonable suspicion to make that stop,” said Metz.

Metz said the man, Elijah McClain, did not respond to police commands and that’s when his officers attempted to restrain him, resulting in a struggle.

“Officers had to put physically hands on to try to stop him, and at that point he resisted their efforts to get him to stop,” said Metz.

Metz said he watched the body camera footage that was captured by the officers at the scene but he would not say how many officers touched McClain. Three officers were placed on Administrative Leave with Pay.

The Problem Solvers are seeking that information and the body camera footage by filing an open records request.

Police contacted Aurora Fire Rescue and an ambulance after the struggle with McClain because of his “condition and his agitated state,” said Metz.

“Even after being restrained, (McClain) was still able to talk to the officers” said Metz.

At some point during his transport to the hospital, responders administered a drug to McClain to reduce his agitation. His heart later stopped, and rescue crews worked to revive him.

Aurora Fire Rescue would not confirm what drug was administered, but a spokesperson told the Problem Solvers the department believes its personnel followed protocol properly.

“As with any of our patients, the Aurora Fire Rescue family is hopeful and prayerful for a complete recovery of our patient,” said Fernando M. Gray Sr., the fire chief.

McClain is a happy young man who loves music and worked as a massage therapist, according to his family and friends.

“It breaks my heart,” said Destiney Williams, who said she is McClain’s best friend. “I feel like he doesn’t deserve anything that’s going on.”

Williams said McClain is still unconscious.

The Denver Police Department and the district attorney’s office are also involved in the investigation.

Lori Jane Gliha wrote this report.

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