Aurora to receive, release results of third-party probe into Elijah McClain’s death on Monday

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DENVER – Aurora plans to release the results of the third-party investigation into the death of Elijah McClain on Monday morning before the investigative team presents their findings to the city council at a meeting that evening.

This specific investigation was initiated by the Aurora City Council last July via a resolution that called for an independent team led by Jonathan Smith of the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs in Washington, D.C.

The team included consultants who have expertise in independent investigations, law enforcement and public safety accountability, civil rights, use of force, police and EMT training and criminal justice.

It was tasked with investigating McClain’s death and the actions of police, fire and EMT personnel who were involved. The report is expected to include recommendations for changes stemming from the McClain incident as well as for future best practices for city first responders.

Aurora leaders had originally announced last June that a Connecticut attorney would lead an independent investigation, but several members of the council argued that the attorney, a former police officer who has worked closely with police departments, could not provide an independent review, and the city cut ties.

A spokesperson for the city of Aurora said Friday that the city expects to receive the results of the investigation Monday morning and release them to the public shortly afterward.

The investigatory team will then present to the city council in a special study session that starts at 5 p.m. Monday ahead of the city council’s regular meeting. The special study session can be seen on AuroraTV.org.

The spokesperson said that the Aurora city manager, police and fire chiefs and independent investigative team will hold a news conference Tuesday morning to discuss the report further.

The investigation is one of many involving the death of McClain, who died several days after an encounter with Aurora police and paramedics on Aug. 24, 2019 in which McClain was put in a carotid hold and administered a heavy dose of the sedative ketamine.

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser announced last month he was launching a grand jury investigation into McClain’s death. Weiser was appointed by Gov. Jared Polis to be the special prosecutor in a state investigation into McClain’s death, though no charges have been announced stemming from that investigation.

There are several other investigations underway at the state, local and federal levels, including a top-down review of the Aurora Police Department by the state attorney general, an independent investigation by Chicago-based 21CP Solutions to conduct a comprehensive review of the police department, and a review in the Colorado U.S. Attorney’s Office alongside the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.

Earlier this month, the Aurora Civil Service Commission upheld the firings of three officers, including one who was involved in the initial encounter with McClain, who were involved in a scandal surrounding a photo they took and texted around to one another of officers mocking the carotid hold at the scene of McClain’s death.