The Colorado Attorney General's Office has opened a grand jury investigation into the death of Elijah McClain, the 23-year-old Black massage therapist who was choked by police in 2019 while walking home from the drug store with a bottle of iced tea in a bag.
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser announced the decision in a press release on Friday, saying the latest move is in addition to the ongoing independent investigation into McClain’s death that was launched over the summer.
“Under the governor’s executive order, the Attorney General’s Office continues to conduct an independent investigation concerning the events of Aug. 24, 2019, involving Elijah McClain and his subsequent death," the attorney general stated. "We have now opened a grand jury investigation. The grand jury is an investigative tool that has the power to compel testimony from witnesses and require production of documents and other relevant information that would otherwise be unavailable."
A grand jury in Colorado will review the death of Elijah McClain, the 23-year-old Black man murdered by Aurora police in August 2019. The investigation comes as part of an independent investigation, following nationwide protests over the police killings of Black Americans. pic.twitter.com/Fpig9apXx3— Grande Capo (@VoLinxx) January 9, 2021
As Blavity previously reported, someone called 911 on Aug. 24, 2019, after spotting McClain, who was wearing a ski mask while walking down the street in Aurora. He was also wearing headphones when officers responded to the call and instructed him to stop. In the ensuing struggle to detain McClain, officer Nathan Woodyard choked him.
Paramedics sedated McClain with ketamine when he allegedly became aggressive upon regaining consciousness, CBS News reported. He died three days later in the hospital.
Woodyard and his colleagues said McClain resisted arrest and grabbed for a gun. However, body camera footage showed that the Colorado man did neither, nor had he committed any crimes that led to his being detained by officers.
"I'm an introvert," McClain is heard saying in the bodycam footage after officers confronted him. "Please respect the boundaries that I am speaking."
"Elijah McClain should be alive today, and we owe it to his family to take this step and elevate the pursuit of justice in his name to a statewide concern," Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement.
According to The Hill, none of the officers involved in the 2019 incident have been charged for McClain’s death. Three other officers, Erica Marrero, Kyle Dittrich and Jaron Jones, were fired for mockingly taking a photo of themselves choking each other near a memorial for McClain in October, as Blavity previously reported.