Denver, Colorado – According to an updated autopsy report made public on Friday, a Black man who died following a police contact in a Denver suburb in 2019 died because he was injected with a potent sedative after being forcibly detained.
Despite the conclusion, the method of massage therapist Elijah McClain’s death remains undetermined, according to the study. After being detained for “being suspicious” by police in Aurora, McClain was placed in a neck hold and injected with ketamine. He had no weapons.
The initial autopsy report that was written shortly after his death in August 2019 did not conclude how he died or what form of death he suffered, such as natural, accidental, or homicidal. This was a crucial factor in the initial decision by prosecutors not to seek charges.
However, a state grand jury charged three cops and two paramedics for manslaughter and reckless murder in McClain’s death after the killing of George Floyd in 2020 rekindled interest in the case. During the national reckoning over racism and police brutality, it became a rallying cry.
McClain was administered with ketamine, a sedative, while being physically detained and restrained by law police and emergency personnel, according to an unidentified pathologist whose findings were included in the indictment.
The five defendants have not yet entered pleas, and their attorneys have made no public statements regarding the charges.
The new autopsy was disclosed on Friday as a result of a court order in a lawsuit filed by Colorado Public Radio and other media outlets, including The Associated Press. After learning that the report had been amended, Colorado Public Radio sued the coroner to release it, alleging that it should be made available under the state’s public records legislation.
Coroner Monica Broncucia-Jordan stated that she could not release it because it contained classified grand jury information and because doing so would be a violation of the oath she swore last year not to reveal it.
A Denver judge who handles state grand jury procedures, Christopher Baumann, decided Thursday that grand jury information did not need to be concealed from the amended report.
The death of McClain rekindled interest in the usage of ketamine and prompted Colorado’s health department to publish a new rule restricting its use by emergency personnel.
Last year, the city of Aurora settled a lawsuit brought by McClain’s parents for $15 million. The lawsuit claimed that the force officers used against McClain and his effort to endure it significantly raised the quantity of lactic acid in his system, possibly contributing to his death combined with the enormous dose of ketamine he was administered.
The police inquiry after McClain’s arrest was criticized by an outside review commissioned by the city for not pressing for information about how officers treated McClain. It was determined that there was no evidence to support the police’ decision to stop McClain, who had been flagged as suspicious because he was wearing a ski mask and waiving his hands as he walked down the street. He was not charged with violating any laws.
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