Three Denver police officers are on leave and an investigation is underway after a young Black man died following a confrontation with authorities in suburban Denver.
Elijah McClain’s family took him off life support last Friday after they say a violent arrest by Aurora officers left him brain dead, according to The Denver Post. McClain was just 23 years old.
“This was a case of police brutality of someone so sweet,” said the man’s younger sister, Samara McClain. “He doesn’t deserve this. He shouldn’t be in a hospital.”
The incident unfolded just after 10:30 p.m. on August 24 when police said they received a call about a “suspicious person” wearing a ski mask and waving his arms as he walked down the street. McClain’s sister said he was headed to the corner store for some tea and often wore ski masks because he suffers from anemia and gets cold easily.
According to police, McClain refused to stop walking and grew violent and combative when they tried taking him into custody.
Police subsequently called paramedics and Aurora Fire Rescue due to the “level of physical force applied while restraining the subject and his agitated mental state,” a department news release stated. McClain was then given a “standard medication” to help him calm down.
The Aurora man would suffer cardiac arrest during the ambulance ride to the hospital.
Aurora police spokesman Anthony Camacho has remained mum about the extent of McClain’s injuries, as well as the medication that was provided to him. He said three officers are on paid leave as both the Denver and Aurora police departments, as well as the district attorney’s office, investigate.
Bodycam footage of the arrest will be released once prosecutors are done with their review, according to Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz.
“I am not happy that somebody was seriously injured and fell ill after an interaction with public safety first responders,” he said, later adding that officers had reasonable suspicion to stop the young man.
Samara McClain told the Denver Post her brother was a massage therapist and had plans to go to college and earn a degree.
“He was a really good person,” she said of her brother. “He didn’t argue with anybody. If you tried to argue with him he would just say ‘I love you’ and walk away.”
A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to help the family cover Elijah’s funeral expenses.
Watch more in the video below.