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Family seeks body cam video, answers about forced detainment by police that led to death in Aurora

APD got call about 'suspicious man' with ski mask
Posted at 2:55 AM, Sep 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-15 13:49:20-04

AURORA, Colo. -- Family members of a young man who died, while being forcefully detained by Aurora police say they want answers.

They gathered near Billings Street and Evergreen Avenue on Saturday night for a candlelight vigil in honor of Elijah McClain.

That's just across the street from where the confrontation took place.

According to police, APD received a "suspicious person" call at 10:32 p.m. on Aug. 24.

The caller reported an adult male walking on Billings Street near Colfax Avenue, wearing a ski mask and waving his arms in the air.

Police say when they tried to make contact, the man continued walking.

They say a struggle ensued.

Police requested that a paramedic administer medication "due to the level of physical force applied while restraining the subject and his agitated mental state."

The 23-year old patient suffered a heart attack on the way to the hospital and later died.

"It should not have escalated from a suspicious call to my son dying," said Lawayne Mosley, Elijah's father.

Elijah's sister, Naomi McClain, told Denver7 that Elijah did not suffer from any mental or physical issues.

She said he had gone to a convenience store to purchase some bottled tea for a cousin.

She added that he was wearing an open face ski mask, because "he had anemia and would sometimes get cold."

Ms. McClain also said her brother was wearing earphones under his ski mask

She wonders whether he initially heard police.

"I know he was listening to music," she said.

The young man's mom, Sheneen McClain, told Denver7 that Elijah "wasn't a person who went around banging on doors, making noise. He was a person who would buy you something if you needed it."

She said she's still having trouble coming to terms with what happened.

"I'm shocked to be honest with you," she said. "I'm totally shocked because I love Aurora, and I respect everybody doing their job. I respect the police. I respect the people who were there that night, or I did until this happened."

Now, she said, "I don't know who to trust anymore."

When asked if Elijah may have had other medication or substances in his system that reacted with the forced medication, his sister replied, "No, he doesn't drink. He doesn't take drugs. He likes hanging out. He likes being aware of his body and what goes in it."

Naomi said her brother worked as a massage therapist.

Several employees of an adjacent pet grooming shop attended the candlelight vigil and told Denver7 that Elijah would often spend his "breaks" at the shop.

"He always came into the store," Vanessa Madril said. "Every time he had a break, he came in. He had a sweet soul. He wanted to be there. He loved animals and he loved us."

Police told our partners at the Denver Post there were no allegations that Elijah had done anything criminal.

"I don't think the amount of force used on my son was justified," Mosley said. "I don't know, a suspicious call? That still doesn't give you the right to put your hands on me."

Mosley said Elijah should still be alive.

"I should be getting grandbabies from him," he said.

Elijah's mom questions the right of any paramedic to forcibly administer medication to anyone without knowing what the reaction would be.

"I want everybody connected to that brought to justice," she said.

In a news release, APD said the officers were using their issued body worn cameras.

"Because of the critical nature of this incident, it is being investigated by the APD Major Crimes/Homicide Unit and members of the Denver Police Department to ensure a fair and transparent investigation into the events of that night," the release stated.

Family members say the want to see the video from the body cameras.