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McClain family reaches settlement with City of Aurora over a year after filing lawsuit

Family filed lawsuit seeking justice in Elijah McClain’s August 2019 death
Elijah McClain
Posted at 9:58 AM, Oct 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-19 10:00:38-04

AURORA, Colo. — The family of Elijah McClain has reached a settlement with the City of Aurora more than a year after a federal lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court of Colorado over the death of the unarmed Black man, who died days after a violent arrest by Aurora police in August 2019.

The attorneys for both sides of the family confirmed the settlement with KMGH Monday afternoon.

McClain, 23, was unarmed and walking home from a corner store when he was encountered by Aurora police on Aug. 24, 2019, after a passerby called 911 to report him as suspicious. Over a nearly 20-minute span, police put McClain in a carotid hold, limiting blood flow to his brain, and arriving paramedics injected him with a heavy dose of ketamine. He went into cardiac arrest and was declared brain dead days later before he died on Aug. 30, 2019.

McClain's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in August 2020 against the City of Aurora, the officers and paramedics involved in his arrest, as well as others in the case.

The 106-page lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court of Colorado claimed that Aurora’s customs and policies led to Aurora Police Department officers and Aurora Fire Rescue paramedics violating McClain’s constitutional rights, leading to his death. The autopsy found his manner and cause of death were undetermined.

The lawsuit claimed the officers involved in the McClain incident used excessive force against him, denied him equal protection under the 14th Amendment, failed to provide adequate medical care, deprived him of due process, battered him causing his death and committed negligence causing his death.

News of the settlement comes nearly three months after a state grand jury launched by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser returned a 32-count indictment against the three officers and two paramedics involved in McClain’s death, charging them with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, among other charges.

Weiser announced in January that he had launched the grand jury probe into McClain’s death about six months after Gov. Jared Polis named him the special prosecutor in the investigation to look into “any potential criminal activity by law enforcement officers or any individuals” involved in his death.

The grand jury probe was the result of last year's protests following the death of George Floyd, which led to broader attention on McClain's case in both Colorado and across the country.

“The court will now determine allocation of the proceeds between Ms. Mcclain, the parent who raised Elijah McClain by herself, and Lawayne Mosley, the absent biological father,” attorneys for Sheneen McClain said in a prepared statement obtained by KMGH Monday.

Speaking through his attorneys, LaWayne Mosley, Elijah’s father, said that even though nothing will bring back his son, who he loved dearly, “He is hopeful that this settlement with Aurora, and the criminal charges against the officers and medics who killed Elijah, will allow his family and the community to begin to heal."

This story was originally published by Óscar Contreras at KMGH.