10:30 p.m. on August 24, 2019, Elijah McClain left his house to go to a convenience store to get something ice tea for his brother. He was 23 years old and on his way home, listening to music as he walked. Unbeknownst to him someone called the police to report a suspicious man in a ski mask waving his hands around.
He was a massage therapist who is said to have loved animals and who taught himself to play the guitar and the violin. A photograph of Mr. McClain playing the violin for stray cats, which he believed helped soothe them, has gone viral. Sheneen McClain says her son was always introverted. She said he’d channel his shy nature by expressing himself through art.
While he was detained, Mr. McClain was clearly in distress. After officers restrained him on the ground, he vomited several times, for which he apologized, saying, “I’m sorry, I wasn’t trying to do that, I can’t breathe correctly.” It should be noted that Mr. McClain suffered from asthma.
As of June 29, none of the officers had been fired; on June 13, however, the APD quietly reassigned Woodyard and Rosenblatt to “non-enforcement duties,” with Roedema following on June 20.
As mass protests have erupted nationwide, the case is being reviewed amid public outrage over police killings of Blacks and other minorities.
As recently as this week, the police department in Aurora has come under fire/scrutiny once again. First, Photos of police officers recreating the carotid hold at the location where Elijah had been arrested have emerged. Those officers, their conduct and the pictures are currently being reviewed.
Secondly, Aurora police dressed in riot gear, began dispersing crowds using pepper spray and tear gas to break up the peaceful vigil in McClain’s hometown. Thousands of protestors had come together over the weekend in City Center Park as local musicians played violins to pay respects to McClain, who studied violin for much of his life and used to play music to soothe stray cats and dogs at the local animal shelters.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis has said: “Elijah McClain should be alive today, and we owe it to his family to take this step and elevate the pursuit of justice in his name to a statewide concern,” Polis said in a statement. called for an investigation and sympathy.
He has signed an executive order for the state attorney general, Phil Weiser, to investigate McClain’s death.
*** The carotid hold is a form of chokehold that cuts off blood flow through the carotid arteries to the brain. It can almost immediately render someone unconscious.
This is why they march.
#SayHisName | #BlackLivesMatter