The parents of Elijah McClain, a slain 23-year-old Black man from Aurora, Colorado, recently filed a lawsuit against the city, the Aurora Police Department and medical officials, after he was violently detained on August 24, 2019.
McClain’s mother and father, Sheneen McClain and Lawayne Mosley, filed the suit on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Colorado, NBC News reports. The suit names the city of Aurora, several police officers, two paramedics and a fire department medical director. They believe McClain was unlawfully stopped and that his civil liberties were violated.
The family says that their son was a gentle soul who enjoyed massage therapy and playing his violin for cats at a local shelter.
“Elijah was listening to music, enjoying the short walk home from the corner store with some iced tea when Aurora police officers grabbed, tackled, and assaulted him,” the lawsuit states.
“In a span of eighteen minutes, Defendants subjected Elijah to a procession of needless and brutal force techniques and unnecessary, recklessly administered medication, the combined effects of which he could not survive,” the suit continues.
In an accompanying statement Mari Newman, McClain’s family lawyer, said the lawsuit intends “to demand justice for Elijah McClain, to hold accountable the Aurora officials, police officers, and paramedics responsible for his murder, and to force the City of Aurora to change it longstanding pattern of brutal and racist policing.”
“Elijah Javon McClain was 23 years old when he was killed by Aurora police officers and paramedics. “Elijah’s killers extinguished the light of a beautiful young man who loved all beings,” Newman said.
McClain died days after his arrest where he was approached by officers responding to a call about a “suspicious” person who was waving their arms while walking down the street. His family claims he suffered from a blood condition and often wore a ski mask because he was cold.
When officers arrived at the scene a struggle ensued and the young man was placed in a chokehold. In the body camera footage, you can hear McClain say, “You guys started to arrest me, and I was stopping my music to listen.”
The suit also states the officers collectively placed their weight on his body, amounting to around 700 pounds. He was later injected with 500 mg of ketamine, a dose too large for McClain who weighed 140 pounds, the family contends in the suit.
He suffered cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital and was later taken off of life support.
The Adams County District Attorney Dave Young declined to prosecute the three officers involved. All were moved to “non-enforcement” duties in June, following the national attention of McClain’s case.
Three separate investigations into McClain’s death have been initiated by the federal government, state attorney general’s office and the city of Aurora.