His last words were: "I can’t breathe. I have my ID right here... My name is Elijah McClain. That’s my house. I was just going home. I’m an introvert. I’m just different. That’s all. I’m so sorry. I have no gun. I don’t do that stuff. I don’t do any fighting. Why are you attacking me?"
Trigger Warning: This story contains details of police brutality that readers may find disturbing.
Elijah McClain was a massage therapist by profession. During his lunch breaks, he would play the violin for lonely kittens at his hometown in Aurora, Colorado. On August 24th, 2019, McClain was murdered. He was walking home from a local convenience store, according to The Cut. According to the McClain family, Elijah, who was anemic, preferred to wear a ski mask to keep his face warm while he was walking. The same night, the Aurora police got a call about a "suspicious man" in a ski mask. The cops who turned up at the location confronted him and apparently McClain, who was not armed and had not committed any kind of crime, "resisted arrest."
Elijah McClain's last words just break my heart. The cops and the paramedics who murdered him are still walking free. Do your fucking job @da17colorado #JusticeForElijahMcClain pic.twitter.com/RSB35eopI2— Amy Marie (@amymarieberger) June 22, 2020
In just 15 minutes, officers tackled McClain, and shoved him to the ground. They then put him in a carotid hold and called first responders, who injected him with ketamine. He had a heart attack on the way to the hospital and died days later after he was declared brain dead. Almost a year after his death, McClain's family strongly believes that the cause of his death was due to the excessive use of force by the cops. The 23-year-old had made a quick trip to the convenience store to pick up iced tea for his cousin. Naomi McClain, Elijah's sister, said that he was wearing an open face ski mask, because "he had anemia and would sometimes get cold," according to ABC Denver.
“He is laying on the ground vomiting, he is begging, he is saying, ‘I can’t breathe.’ One of the officers says, ‘Don’t move again. If you move again, I’m calling in a dog to bite you,'” Mari Newman, the McClain family attorney, says in the petition. According to ELLE, some of his last words were: "I can’t breathe. I have my ID right here... My name is Elijah McClain. That’s my house. I was just going home. I’m an introvert. I’m just different. That’s all. I’m so sorry. I have no gun. I don’t do that stuff. I don’t do any fighting. Why are you attacking me? I don’t even kill flies. I don’t eat meat. But I don’t judge people, I don’t judge people who do eat meat. Forgive me. All I was trying to do was become better... I will do it... I will do anything. Sacrifice my identity, I’ll do it. I'll do it. You all are phenomenal. You are beautiful and I love you. Try to forgive me. I’m a mood Gemini. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Ow, that really hurt. You are all very strong. Teamwork makes the dream work."
This young man, Elijah Mclain, was another victim of police brutality, and his murderers are still roaming around, free as can be. They are walking around like they did nothing.— Boss N Hug Connection (@ConnectionBoss) June 23, 2020
ARREST THE COPS WHO MURDERED HIM!#ElijahMcClain #JusticeForElijahMcClain pic.twitter.com/D9p8AtiWjT
In bodycam footage posted to YouTube by the Aurora Police Department, one officer accuses McClain of reaching for his gun. McClain tells the officers he is unarmed, and just trying to get home. McClain can also be heard sobbing, vomiting, and then saying, "Oh, I’m sorry I wasn’t trying to do that. I just can’t breathe correctly.” One of the officers even threatened to bring a police dog over to him and bite him for allegedly “messing around.” After the bodycam video was released, District Attorney Dave Young sent a letter to Aurora police chief Nick Metz that the cops involved were simply doing their job.
This is Elijah McClain’s sister Naomi she said the cops that killed her brother got transferred to Denver PD and those same cops have patrolled around her apartment and have been to the store where their sister works #ElijahMcClain #JusticeForElijahMcClain pic.twitter.com/76mpDcbmhi— Auntie Ari 🧝🏾♀️ (@auraambitions) June 22, 2020
"Based on the investigation presented and the applicable Colorado law, there is no reasonable likelihood of success of proving any state crimes beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. Therefore, no state criminal charges will be filed as a result of this incident." The officers were even cleared of all wrongdoings. In a coroner’s report obtained by The Sentinel Colorado, Forensic Pathology Consultant Dr. Stephen Cina wrote that he was unable to determine McClain's cause of death. Cina said that "the manner of death may be an accident if it was an idiosyncratic drug reaction. It may be natural if [McClain] had an undiagnosed mental illness that led to excited delirium, if his intense physical exertion combined with a narrow coronary artery leading to an arrhythmia, if he had an asthma attack, or if he aspirated vomit while restrained.”
Cina also wrote that McClain's death "may be a homicide if the actions of officers led to his death (e.g. carotid control hold led to stimulation of the carotid sinus resulting in an arrhythmia)." However, McClain’s case has received renewed attention on social media with the hashtag #JusticeForElijahMcClain after the killing of Geroge Floyd. More than 2.2 million people have signed the petition demanding that the "officers are taken off duty, and that a more in-depth investigation is held." Meanwhile, a few changes have occurred in the Aurora PD according to CBS Local. Interim Police Chief Vanessa Wilson announced that the carotid hold is banned, warning before shooting a must, officers to refrain from using excessive force, and relieve other officers when a use-of-force incident occurs. They will also be trained to not assume a person is suspicious based on a 911 call.