Colorado Governor Jared Polis issued an executive order on Thursday directing Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser to investigate individuals involved with the death of Elijah McClain in Aurora, Colorado.
The incident between McClain and officers occurred on August 24, 2019, after officers responded to a 9/11 call about a “suspicious person.” After confronting McClain, one of the officers placed him in a carotid control hold, cutting off the blood flow to his brain. He was also given ketamine as a sedative by the Aurora Fire Rescue. However, during the arrest, Mclain went into cardiac arrest and had to be hospitalized. After several unsuccessful attempts to address his rapidly deteriorating condition, Mclain was declared brain dead and removed from life support on August 30.
The district attorney declined to bring charges against the officers involved in the incident, and a review conducted in 2020 by an excessive force review board found that the officers’ actions were “within policy and consistent with their training.”
The order declared the matter one of “statewide importance.” It also stated that it is “necessary for the Attorney General to act as the State’s prosecutor, investigate, and—if the evidence permits—prosecute potential criminal activity by individuals that caused the death of Elijah McClain.” Polis also published a press release explaining his reasoning behind the order:
Now more than ever, we must do everything within our power to foster public trust and confidence in law enforcement and the criminal justice system. That’s why I have appointed a special prosecutor to investigate this case, and it’s why earlier this month we took a step in the right direction by signing sweeping bipartisan police reform legislation into law that has now established significant new accountability for officer-involved killings.
With Polis’s support, the order is expected to last until the completion of the investigation.