In 2019, a black man named Elijah McClain died after a police encounter because he was injected with a sedative after being forcefully restrained by the police. This encounter happened in the Denver suburb when McClain was stopped by the police in Aurora because ‘he was suspicious’. McClain was unarmed.
The police officers put a neck hold on McClain and injected him with ketamine by the police officers. Although McClain death’s was found to be done by the police officers, his case was still listed as undetermined, not a homicide.
Amended Autopsy Reports Says That Elijah McClain Died Due To Sedative
The main reason why his case wasn’t considered a homicide was because of the initial autopsy reported. From the initial autopsy report, the officials weren’t able to conclude what was the cause of McClain’s death or if was it really ketamine and this is why the prosecutor didn’t press charges against the police officers.
But on Friday, the second autopsy of Elijah McClain’s death was released and it clearly stated that the cause of death is the sedative.
After being ruled out as undetermined, McClain’s case was renewed and drew attention after the killing of George Floyd in 2020. People started rallying for McClain’s justice and also against US police racism and brutality.
In the same year, a state grand jury pressed charges on three officers and two paramedics for homicide in McClain’s death. None of the accused have entered pleas and their lawyers haven’t responded to the charges.
An updated report about Elijah McClain’s death was published in 2021 and pathologist Dr. Stephen Cina has said that it was concluded from the report that the cause of McClain’s death was indeed ketamine because the ketamine that the officers injected into him was overdose for someone his size.
Stephen also added that the possibility of McClains’ blood chemistry, an increase in lactic acid after being restrained by the police offers could have also played a part in his death. Dr. Cina also said that McClain was extremely sedated after he was injected with ketamine.
Dr. Carl Wigren, a pathologist in Washington State says that every report and finding concludes that McClain’s died from asphyxia, a type of suffocation that he experienced after the police officers put pressure on his neck while restraining him.
The report says that McClain was struck by a passage in the city and the ambulance company’s report says that they found him laying on the ground on his stomach, with his arms handcuffed behind his back and two police officers were standing atop of him. Dr. Wigeran noted that McClain was saying he couldn’t breathe to the police officers but he said that that doesn’t mean he was fully able to breathe.
Wigren says that ketamine can make it hard to breathe but he doesn’t think that it is ketamine that caused McClain’s death but it was because of the pressure that the police officers put on him that caused McClain’s death.
Another pathologist named Dr. Deborah G. Johnson from Colorado said that it was indeed ketamine that caused the death of McClain. But she says that it wasn’t the only thing that played a part in McClains’ death. The restraint that the police officers put on McClain might have influenced ketamine to work quickly and effectively, which resulted in slowed breath and then led to McClain’s death. Both Deborah G. Johnson and Carl Wigren say that McClain’s death was a homicide.
The updated autopsy of McClain’s death was released on Friday after many media organizations sued the coroner to release the autopsy reported after it had been updated. Coroner Monica Broncucia-Jordan wasn’t ready to release the autopsy report as she said that the report contains much information that is confidential to the grand jury and by releasing the report, she would be violating the oath that she made of not releasing the information.
But later, Adams County District Judge Kyle Seedorf ordered Coroner Monica Broncucia-Jordan to release the updated report by Friday. The updated report mainly has extensive body camera footage, witness statements, and records that weren’t available in the initial report.
Elijah McClain’s death led the Colorado health department to issue a new rule which indicated the limited use of ketamine when emergency workers are using it. An investigation carried out by the city said that the officials of Colorado haven’t pressed charges on the officers because of the way they treated McClain. The investigation says that there is no reason for the police officers to restrain McClain because he didn’t break any law.