Mobilization for Justice Statement on Elijah McClain’s murder

Yet another Black life taken without punishment or consequences. In August 2019, police officers in Aurora, Colorado, confronted 23-year-old African American Elijah McClain as he walked home from a convenience store. In the 15 minutes that followed, the officers tackled McClain to the ground, and put him in a “carotid” chokehold, completely cutting off blood flow to his brain. They then called first responders, who injected him with ketamine, an extremely powerful and unpredictable drug. He had a heart attack on the way to the hospital, and died days later, after he was declared brain dead.

Despite clear evidence of egregious police malfeasance—and the death of a 23-year-old African American young man—Adams County prosecutors announced that they would not file criminal charges against the officers, claiming “there is no reasonable likelihood of success of proving any state crimes beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.”

Once again, an innocent young man is murdered by the police for being Black. Once again, an unarmed Black civilian was killed by the police by use of lethal force. Once again, local prosecutors decide not to pursue charges despite overwhelming evidence of murder committed by police against an innocent Black person. Once again, the most basic norms of civilization—protection of life and liberty—is made into a mockery by police violence against a Black person in America. This is state-sanctioned murder. Full stop.

As the lawyer for the McClain family attested: “…the fact that all three of their body cameras fell off is something that we should all be pretty suspicious about. It makes it awfully easy for them to say whatever they want, but what we know is that they attacked him for no reason whatsoever. It was excessive force and it led to his death.”

We call on the Colorado legislature to immediately pass and Governor Polis to sign the police accountability bill that won preliminary approval Monday in the state Senate. The bill includes a ban on the use of carotid pressure holds, as well as a prohibition on the use of deadly force by officers unless they face an imminent threat.

We also call on the federal Justice Department to begin an immediate investigation of the circumstances of McClain’s murder at the hands of the police. And we call on the Aurora authorities to immediately reopen the investigation into the circumstances of Mr. McClain’s death and the three police officers involved. Enough is enough! #BlackLivesMatter