Aurora, Colo. (KDVR) – The City of Aurora will publicly share the nearly 6-month independent investigation results into Elijah McClain’s death Monday morning. City leaders, like the chief of police and the fire chief, will not speak publicly about the results until Tuesday.
“Until the City Council and city staff have received and reviewed the report and listened to the presentation, it would be improper for city leadership and the independent investigation team to provide further comment,” said Ryan Luby, a spokesperson for the City of Aurora.
Curtis Gardner, a member of City Council who sits on the public safety committee and helped hire the consultants, said he is looking forward to the results.
“I made it very clear from the beginning that I don’t want a report just to check the box and put up on a shelf. I want a report that tells us what was done wrong – maybe what was done right – and what we can change and improve on in the future,” he said.
Gardner is also the council member who spearheaded an effort to place a moratorium on the use of ketamine to treat agitated patients in the city during the course of the investigation. The drug was used to sedate McClain in Aug. 2019 after he was engaged in an altercation with police.
“I think the big question is did we follow our department policies, and if we did, are those policies appropriate?” Gardner said. “Obviously if the policies weren’t followed, that’s concerning, but even if they were, maybe we need to take a step back and say, ‘Going forward in the future, do we need to do something differently so we don’t’ have this kind of outcome?’”
Prior to the start of the investigation, Jonathan Smith, the civil rights attorney leading the investigation, spoke with the FOX31 Problem Solvers about his plans.
“The objective here is to give the city that appraisal: What happened here? Did something go wrong? And if (something) went wrong, how do you prevent it from happening in the future?” he said.
Smith has been working with Roberto Villasenor to investigate police tactics, and Dr. Melissa Costello to examine the paramedics’ actions when they administered ketamine to McClain.
Costello also spoke with FOX31 prior to the launch of the investigation.
“I think the goal in any encounter of this nature is that you want every person involved, whether they are police, fire, EMS, paramedics, bystanders…you want everyone…if it is possible to go home safe and uninjured,” she said.
“My expectation is that it’s going to be a very tepid report,” said Mari Newman, the civil rights attorney who filed a lawsuit against the city, on behalf of the McClain’s family, last year. Newman said the consultants reached out to her for their investigation.
“I did not have the feeling that they were really invested in hearing much from us other than checking the box that they had reached out,” said Newman, explaining how she had a lot of information to share about the City of Aurora’s policies, procedures, and practices.
“Through decades of litigation against the City of Aurora, we have a lot of information about both its policies and practices of racism and brutality, which are certainly relevant,” she said.
Newman, who represents McClain’s father in the suit, said she also requested an advanced copy of the report for McClain’s family but has not received one.
“Given the very personal nature of the investigation, we requested that the family be allowed to receive an advanced copy, and we’ve simply been ignored,” she said. “It’s an inhumane way to treat a grieving family.”
The consultants will formally present their findings during a city council study session starting at 5:00 p.m. The public can watch the presentation on Aurora TV. We will publish the report on our website once it is released Monday morning.