Elijah McClain, a Black man who was restrained by police, put in a choke hold, and given a sedative injection in 2019, was neither armed nor suspected of committing a crime when he was killed, Reuters reported.
On Friday, three Colorado police officers and two paramedics entered not-guilty pleas to charges of homicide.
For manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, and other accusations, the five defendants’ attorneys filed not-guilty pleas on their behalf. Adams County, where the murder occurred, hosted the arraignment.
On August 24, 2019, McClain, 23, was going home from a convenience shop in the Denver suburb of Aurora when he was accosted by police who had been called because they thought he was acting strangely. He was not accused of having committed a crime, however.
Police used a carotid neck hold, often known as a choke hold, to subdue the thin McClain. He then received an injection of the potent tranquilizer ketamine, went into cardiac arrest, and passed away a few days later in a hospital.
A crying McClain could be heard begging the cops in a video of the interaction taken from a police body camera: “I can’t breathe, please stop. I was just going home.”
The cause of McClain’s death was determined to be a ketamine overdose by a new autopsy report that was released in September 2022.
In order to resolve a civil rights case, the city of Aurora consented to pay McClain’s family $15 million in November 2021.
Following the 2020 shooting of George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer, which prompted a summer of worldwide protests against the persecution of African Americans and other minorities by U.S. law enforcement, the Elijah McClain case has received widespread attention.
Colorado’s governor asked the state attorney general to look into the issue after the McClain tragedy sparked public outrage. After two years had passed since the murder, a grand jury indicted the five men on 32 counts in September 2021.