February 23, 2021
DENVER – The following statement can be attributed to Mark Silverstein, Legal Director for ACLU of Colorado.
“The Aurora independent investigation report confirms in stark terms what the community has long understood: Aurora police killed Elijah McClain. Mr. McClain was the innocent victim of multiple violations of longstanding law that is supposed to limit the authority of law enforcement. Aurora police had no grounds to stop Mr. McClain in the first place. They had no grounds to put their hands on him. They had no legal justification for a pat-down frisk. They had no legal basis to force him to the ground. They had no adequate basis to direct paramedics to administer an excessive dose of ketamine into Mr. McClain’s system without his consent. As for the in-house “investigation” that exonerated the officers, which is more aptly labeled a coverup, the report explains that the Aurora police who investigated their colleagues asked the wrong question and fed suggested answers designed to elicit responses couched in “magic words” that fit with legal precedents.
This report uncovers what are undoubtedly deeply-embedded systemic failures of the Aurora police department — failures that surely would be uncovered in case after case after case if similar truly independent investigations were undertaken. This report cries out for a thorough and systematic overhaul of Aurora police practices, policies, training, and most importantly, the internal culture that has allowed the treatment that Mr. McClain experienced to be callously written off and normalized. It is not simply a report about what happened — it is a call for change. The family of Elijah McClain deserves justice. The community is calling for accountability. Aurora decision-makers cannot and must not ignore these calls.”
ACLU of Colorado is the state’s oldest civil rights organization, protecting and defending the civil rights of all Coloradans through litigation, education and advocacy.