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City of Aurora asks judge to dismiss Elijah McClain wrongful death case

Elijah McClain
Posted at 9:47 PM, Nov 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-03 13:51:48-05

AURORA, Colo. — The City of Aurora, paramedics and officers listed as defendants in a Elijah McClain wrongful death case have asked a federal judge to dismiss the case.

The motion to dismiss the case was filed in Sunday on the U.S. District Court of Colorado.

The defendants claim, among other reasons, in the motion to dismiss that there is no underlying constitutional violation and the complaint fails to adequately allege facts to support municipal liability.

The attorney for the family of Elijah McClain filed the federal civil rights lawsuit back in August. The 106-page lawsuit claims 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 city claims in the motion that the complaint “makes only conclusory allegations regarding the alleged failure to train. It does not point to any specific deficiency in the City’s “overall training,” but rather alleges facts that may suggest “shortcomings in individual officers’ training and supervision.”

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, which limits blood flow to the brain.

He was handcuffed for much of the ordeal, and the lawsuit says that in addition to the carotid hold, an arm bar and knees were used to hold McClain down – even as he vomited. When he became unresponsive, paramedics gave him ketamine, police have said. The lawsuit says the administration of ketamine was done with “reckless or callous disregard of, or indifference to, the rights and safety of Mr. McClain and others.”

McClain stopped breathing and became unresponsive and died days later.

The officers involved in McClain's death were not arrested or charged.

In June, as McClain's death garnered national interest, Gov. Jared Polis appointed Attorney General Phil Weiser to investigate the officers' actions. The Colorado U.S. Attorney's Office also confirmed it is working with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division to investigate the matter.