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Aurora, Colorado, settles with family of Elijah McClain family for $15 million

Elijah McClain
Posted at 8:46 AM, Nov 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-18 14:25:59-05

The city of Aurora, Colorado, has agreed to pay the family of Elijah McClain $15 million in a settlement, which will be split between his parents, ABC News reported Thursday morning.

Once the settlement is finalized, it will be reportedly the highest police settlement in the history of Colorado, according to ABC News.

A hearing on the mediations is scheduled for Friday at 10:30 a.m. local time.

Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock said Thursday that the settlement sets the bar at a level that he hopes will gain the attention of public policymakers and law enforcement around the country.

"This was an absolute tragedy, not just for the City of Aurora, but for all of us. We recognize we need to continue and double down on our efforts to improve police-community relations, but also respect the honor of humanity on the streets," Hancock said. "Elijah McClain should not be dead today. ... I think this settlement proves the belief that something went wrong, terribly wrong, and should not have occurred."

The settlement was announced in October, but details were not available at the time. The settlement came more than a year after a federal lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court of Colorado over the death of McClain, a 23-year-old unarmed Black man, who died after a violent arrest by Aurora police in 2019.

McClain had been walking home from a convenience store on Aug. 24, 2019, after purchasing tea when police stopped him. Police said they had received a call about a suspicious man wearing a ski mask and waving his arms.

A family attorney for the McClains said police terrorized the young man for 15 minutes.

They put him in a carotid hold, and paramedics injected him with a heavy dose of ketamine. McClain went into cardiac arrest and was declared brain dead before he died on Aug. 30, 2019.

His autopsy report said McClain's cause of death was "undetermined." The report referenced multiple abrasions on the victim's face, back and legs. It also referenced some hemorrhaging around his neck.

A family attorney said McClain didn't do anything wrong and wasn't a threat to anyone. She stressed that it's not illegal for a person to wear a mask or swing their arms and said the 911 caller explicitly said there was no suspicion McClain had a weapon on him.

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 settlement also comes months after a 32-count indictment charged first responders with manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and other charges associated with McClain's death. Those charged included police officers Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt and Randy Roedema and paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichunie.

This story was originally published by Stephanie Butzer on Scripps station KMGH in Denver.