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Elijah McClain's family, City of Aurora reach settlement agreement

Elijah McClain
Posted at 7:02 PM, Nov 19, 2021
and last updated 2023-09-19 16:24:50-04

AURORA, Colo. — A $15 million settlement agreement between the City of Aurora and the family of Elijah McClain has been reached after a hearing Friday.

It is reportedly the highest police settlement in the history of Colorado, according to ABC News.

Denver7 reported the financial terms of the settlement on Thursday ahead of Friday’s court hearing in which it was finalized.

The city said Aurora City Council approved the $15 million settlement agreement in July. The city’s excess liability insurance policy will cover $10 million — the maximum amount the policy will pay — and $5 million will be paid out of the city’s general fund.

McClain’s parents, Sheneen McClain and LaWayne Mosley, will negotiate how much each will receive, according to court records.

Qusair Mohamedbhai and Siddhartha Rathod, who represent Elijah McClain’s mother, Sheneen McClain, provided the following statement on her behalf:

“No amount of money will ever bring Elijah back to his mother. Ms. McClain would return every cent for just one more day with her son."

Sheneen McClain’s attorney said an allocation hearing will occur in the near future to determine how to distribute the $15 million between Sheneen McClain “who raised Elijah as a single parent” and Elijah McClain’s father, LaWayne Mosley.

Mari Newman, the attorney for Mosley, provided the following statement:

“There is no amount of money in the world that will make up for losing my son, but hopefully this sends a message to police everywhere that there are consequences for their actions. I hope Elijah’s legacy is that police will think twice before killing another innocent person.”

“No amount of money can change what happened or erase the pain and heartbreak experienced by the family over his loss,” Aurora City Manager Jim Twombly said. “This tragedy has greatly changed and shaped Aurora. In the two years since he died, we have taken a hard look at our policies, our biases and our need to listen to our community. We will not waver from our commitment to have an engaged, involved and heard community, and city departments and agencies that embody the rich, culturally diverse community we serve.”

Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson said significant changes within the department have already occurred and will continue.

“There is nothing that can rectify the loss of Elijah McClain and the suffering his loved ones have endured. I am committed to learning from this tragedy,” Wilson said.

Aurora Fire Rescue Chief Fernando Gray, Sr. said their hearts are focused on Elijah McClain’s family.

“AFR will honor him through process improvements and focusing on compassionate care for all of our patients,” Gray said.

The settlement was announced in October, more than a year after a federal lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court of Colorado over the death of Elijah McClain. The 23-year-old unarmed Black man died in 2019 after a violent arrest by Aurora police and encounter with AFR paramedics.

Aurora officers stopped McClain while he was walking home from a convenience store after purchasing tea on Aug. 24, 2019. They said they had received a 911 call about a suspicious man wearing a ski mask and waving his arms.

During the encounter, officers put him in a carotid hold, and paramedics injected him with too high of a dose of ketamine.

Elijah McClain died on Aug. 30 after going into cardiac arrest and being declared brain dead.

Initially, a review board determined that Aurora police officers acted within department policy during the incident. However, during the height of racial justice protests in June 2020, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Denver Division confirmed they were looking into Elijah McClain’s case.

A state grand jury returned a 32-count indictment in September 2021 against the three officers — Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt and Randy Roedema — and two AFR paramedics — Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichunie — involved in McClain’s death, charging them with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, among other charges.

Just two weeks later, Attorney General Phil Weiser issued a scathing report into problematic patterns and practices. The Aurora Police Department and AG announced Tuesday the terms of a consent decree to try to fix those issues Tuesday.