The death of Colorado man Elijah McClain has been shrouded in mystery as details have been slowly emerging in the wake of calls for widespread police reform. McClain, who was Black, died after an encounter with police in Aurora and millions have signed a petition asking for the reopening of the investigation of what supporters are framing as a murder.
McClain, a massage therapist who was 23 at the time of his death, was returning home from an Aurora gas station after buying cans of iced tea, was stopped by police after calls of suspicion from residents, according to a report from the Colorado Springs Gazette.
On August 24, 2019, police were called in the area McClain was due to him wearing a ski mask and moving his arms around, which friends later said that was most likely him dancing to music in his headphones. According to the Gazette, McClain was heading home from the gas station with four cans of iced tea on his person when police approached, put him in a chokehold, and held him to the ground for 15 minutes after vomiting and complaining of not being able to breathe.
McClain, a slight man, fell into a coma after suffering a heart attack, dying from his injuries on August 30. A Force Review Board said that in their findings, the chokehold technique used on McClain was legal. Adding to this, former Aurora Police Department Chief Nick Metz said, “When (police) saw (McClain), they told him to stop. He wouldn’t stop. Again, he was wearing a ski mask, it’s 10:30 p.m. at night in a residential area, so obviously, that creates some concern.”
A Change.org petition started by Piper Rundell has amassed nearly 3 million signees thus far and is aimed towards Adams County District Attorney Dave Young, along with Mayor Mike Coffman and the Aurora Police Department.