Elijah McClain: Colorado to review black man's death in custody

(BBC) – Colorado is to re-examine the death of a young black man in police custody after growing outrage and a petition signed by more than two million people.

Governor Jared Polis said confidence in law enforcement was “incredibly important now more than ever”.

Elijah McClain died after being put in a chokehold and injected with ketamine in Denver last year.

His case is among several to receive renewed attention following the death of George Floyd last month.

Mr Floyd’s alleged murder by Minneapolis police has prompted a wave of demonstrations worldwide against police brutality and institutional racism.

On Thursday, New York police said an officer who appeared in footage to use a banned chokehold during an arrest in Queens on Sunday had been arrested and charged with strangulation.

New York police banned the chokeholds in 1993 and earlier this month Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation making their use a crime.

What did Governor Polis say?

In a series of tweets, he said he had heard from many Coloradans who had “expressed concerns with the investigation of Elijah McClain’s death”.

“A fair and objective process free from real or perceived bias for investigating officer-involved killings is critical,” he said.

“As a result, I have instructed my legal council to examine what the state can do and we are assessing next steps.”

Nearly 2.7 million people have signed a petition demanding justice and calling for a more in-depth investigation be held.

What happened to Elijah McClain?

The unarmed 23-year-old was walking in the Denver suburb of Aurora on 24 August last year when he was stopped by three white police officers.

A district attorney report later said there had been an emergency call about a “suspicious person” matching his description.

There was a struggle after Mr McClain resisted contact with the officers, who wanted to search him to see if he was armed, the report says. On body cam footage Mr McClain can be heard saying, “I’m an introvert, please respect my boundaries that I am speaking”.

One of the officers then says “he is going for your gun” and they wrestle him to the ground and put him in a chokehold.

The report says Mr McClain lost consciousness, was released from the chokehold and began to struggle again.

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