New autopsy reveals ketamine injection and neck hold led to death of Elijah McClain, 23

Amended autopsy reveals ketamine injection and neck hold led to death of Elijah McClain, 23, during 2019 wrongful arrest – but cause of death is still listed as undetermined, not homicide

  • Elijah McClain, 23, died after being forcibly restrained and injected with a sedative by police and medical responders during a wrongful arrest in 2019, according to a new autopsy
  • McClain’s initial autopsy did not list a cause or manner of death
  • This updated autopsy was changed in July 2021 but was not made available to the public until now
  • Police stopped McClain because he was reported by locals as suspicious for wearing a ski mask as he walked down a street in Aurora, Colorado 
  • A probe found that there was no evidence justifying the police’s decision to stop him, as he was not violating any laws 
  • A grand jury indicted three officers and two paramedics for manslaughter and reckless homicide in 2021 

After three years without a cause, the death of Elijah McClain during a wrongful arrest in 2019, has now been attributed to the neck hold and ketamine injection he was given by police and medical responders. 

An amended autopsy has revealed that McClain, a 23-year-old Colorado man, died because he was forcibly restrained and injected with the powerful sedative. 

An initial autopsy listed the cause of death as ‘undetermined.’

The autopsy was later updated in July 2021, but was not made available to the public by the coroner because it reportedly included confidential grand jury information.

Dr. Stephen Cina, who updated the autopsy, said a ketamine dosage given to McClain to subdue him ‘was too much for this individual and it resulted in an overdose.’ 

Police stopped McClain as he walked down the street of a Denver suburb because locals reported him as suspicious for wearing a ski mask.

A state grand jury indicted three officers and two paramedics with manslaughter and reckless homicide in 2021, though the autopsy report was not then publicly available, according to the Associated Press.

The five accused in his death each face one count of manslaughter and one count of criminally negligent homicide. None of the five entered pleas during a court appearance last month, and a new arraignment was scheduled for Nov. 4.

Elijah McClain was walking down a suburban street with a ski mask on when officers approached him

Elijah McClain is pictured in hospital after he was fatally-injured while being arrested in Aurora, Colorado, in August 2019. Three cops and two paramedics have now been charged.

Elijah McClain left, and right in hospital after he was fatally-injured while being arrested in Aurora, Colorado, in August 2019. He died six days later of his injuries

Police put McClain in a chokehold, and medical responders later sedated him with ketamine

Police put McClain in a chokehold, and medical responders later sedated him with ketamine

McClain was walking home from a convenience store with a bottle of iced tea when he was stopped by police officers responding to a call about a suspicious male wearing a mask

McClain was walking home from a convenience store with a bottle of iced tea when he was stopped by police officers responding to a call about a suspicious male wearing a mask

One year after his death, his mother, Shaneen McClain, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of Aurora

One year after his death, his mother, Shaneen McClain, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of Aurora

The autopsy report followed an opinion given via the grand jury indictment by an unnamed pathologist who suggested McClain died of a sedative overdose.

Cina added that because of the force use against McClain, he could not rule out possible metabolic changes that would have resulted in McClain’s death.

Despite this, the updated autopsy concluded that it is likely the ketamine is what led to his death.

‘I believe that Mr. McClain would most likely be alive but for the administration of ketamine,’ Cina said.

He added that body camera footage indicates McClain becoming ‘extremely sedated’ after being given the drug.

A probe by Denver city officials found that there was no evidence justifying the police’s decision to stop McClain, who was not accused of violating any laws.

Jason Rosenblatt

Nathan Woodyard

Randy Roedema

The officers who stopped McClain on the street and put him in a chokehold are (left to right) Jason Rosenblatt, Nathan Woodyard and Randy Roedema. All three have now been charged

McClain's death gained widespread attention during protests against racial injustice and police brutality following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis

McClain’s death gained widespread attention during protests against racial injustice and police brutality following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis

The McClain's $15 million settlement against a city surpasses that of a $12 million wrongful death lawsuit for Breonna Taylor, right, who was killed by police during a botched drug raid

The McClain’s $15 million settlement against a city surpasses that of a $12 million wrongful death lawsuit for Breonna Taylor, right, who was killed by police during a botched drug raid

The city of Aurora awarded McClain’s family $15 million in a 2021 settlement his parents brought against Denver police.

At the time, the settlement was the largest ever for a civil rights case in Colorado, according to AP.

‘The money is just the world’s way of saying, ‘We’re sorry,’ but it’s not going to help me heal the hole in my heart,’ said Sheneen McClain, Elijah’s mother. 

Elijah’s father, LaWayne Mosley, said he ‘(hoped) Elijah’s legacy is that police will think twice before killing another innocent person.’ 

Colorado’s health department announced December 1, 2021, that ketamine should not be used by emergency workers to subdue people performing ‘erratic behavior.’

McClain’s death was the catalyst to this new ruling, according to another AP report. 

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