The family of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who died following a violent police arrest, and the city of Aurora, Colorado have reached a historic $15 million payment settlement more than two years after the animal shelter volunteer’s death sparked widespread outrage.
The compensation is reportedly the largest paid for a police-related incident in the city and purportedly the state’s history, the family’s lawyer Qusair Mohamedbhai, told reporters. It’s also one of the largest ever in the country in cases compared to other recent high-profile deaths of Black people who have died during police interactions.
“There is no amount of money in the world that will make up for losing my son, but hopefully this sends a message to police everywhere that there are consequences for their actions,” McClain’s father, Lawayne Mosley, said in a statement to 9 News. “I hope Elijah’s legacy is that police will think twice before killing another innocent person.”
The agreement concluded a lawsuit brought on by McClain’s mother Sheneed McClain in August 2020 which named the city, 12 of its police officers, two fire department paramedics, and the fire department’s medical director. The city’s excess liability insurance policy will cover $10 million of the settlement – the maximum amount the policy will pay. The remaining $5 million will be paid out of the city’s general fund in a decision reached last July.
The 23-year-old anemic, wearing a ski mask to avoid getting cold, was walking home from a local convenience store on the night of Aug. 24, 2019, with several cans of Brisk iced tea when he was confronted by Aurora police officers who’ve maintained they were responding to a call about a suspicious person wearing a ski mask and “acting weird” by “waving his arms around.”
Police ultimately placed McClain in a chokehold and handcuffed him before the paramedicS arrived and later injected him with 500 milligrams of ketamine, a powerful sedative. A panel finding found the dosage to be enough for a man weighing 190 pounds. McClain was 5 feet 7 and weighed 140 pounds. He suffered two heart attacks en route to a nearby hospital. He was in a coma until his family took him off life support. He died on Aug. 30. His cause of death has yet to be determined.
Five individuals, including two police officers, a former officer, and two paramedics were indicted last September in connection to the young man’s death. They were charged with one count each of manslaughter and criminally-negligent homicide.
An allocation hearing is said to be on the horizon to determine what portion of the award will be dispensed to McClain’s mother, who raised him, and his father.
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