Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

The findings of an independent investigation regarding the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black autistic musician who died after an encounter with Colorado police in 2019 was released Feb. 22.

The independent investigation was commissioned by The Aurora City Council, which voted unanimously in favor of the investigation. 

“Per the council resolution, the investigation must include a creation of a timeline; a review of all facts from the start to the end of APD’s and AFR’s contact; and a review of relevant policies, procedures and practices, including, without limitation, those related to calls for service, police contact with individuals, use of force, calls for medical assistance, ketamine use, and administrative incident reviews,” according to a statement on the city’s website.

“Together, we all want to achieve meaningful improvements, eliminate racial inequity and make lives better in our community. This review — and ultimately its finding — is a critical step toward these goals.”

The 157-page report fulfilled the demands of the city council in that it created a timeline of the events leading up to McClain’s death.

According to the report, police dispatchers received a 911 call at 10:29 p.m. on August 24, 2019. The caller said they had seen a person in a black mask walking southbound on Billings Street. The caller said the person “looked sketchy” and “he might be a good person or a bad person.”

Nathan Woodyard was the first officer to respond to the call. According to the report, within 10 seconds of Woodyard exiting his patrol car he had his hands on McClain.

Upon the arrival of other officers, Woodyard and the other officers decided McClain was behaving suspiciously because he was wearing a facemask. He was not committing any crime.

The report said McClain’s detainment was not backed by “reasonable suspicion that Mr. McClain was engaged in criminal activity.”

Woodyard said he detained McClain and frisked him “based on him having a ski mask on, on Colfax in the middle of the night and it was causing people to call in.”

District Attorney Dave Young decided not to prosecute the officers.

“I don’t condone any of the officers’ actions out there. In fact, I wish they would have done things differently. If someone is saying ‘I can’t breathe,’ get off of him. Do it. Just get off of him,” Dave Young told ABC News in June. “But, again, that I have no indication that led to the cause of Mr. McClain’s death.”

Young said he stands by his decision not to bring charges against the officers.

“If I can’t prove to a jury of 12 that their actions caused his death, then I cannot file criminal charges,” Young said.

Written ByLinn Win

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