Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man whose deadly encounter with police in Colorado became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement, died from being administered the powerful sedative ketamine after being placed in a chokehold by officers, an amended autopsy report states.
The original autopsy report released in 2019 did not come to a conclusion about how McClain died, citing “undetermined causes.” And in the latest update released on Friday, the manner of death is still classified as undetermined.
In 2019, McClain died following an interaction with police as he was walking home from a grocery store in Aurora, Colorado. He was stopped by three police offers after someone called 911 because he was wearing a ski mask and “acting kind of weird.”
After the police officers confronted McClain, they put him in a chokehold. When he passed out, paramedics injected him with ketamine in order to sedate him. He died three days later in a hospital.
The updated autopsy report was released on Friday because of a court order in a lawsuit filed by Colorado Public Radio and other media organizations, including the Associated Press, asking that the coroner release the new findings.
In the report, forensic pathology consultant Stephen Cina explained that, since 2019, the coroner's office “received additional material for review, including extensive body camera footage, witness statements, and additional records.”
“Simply put, this dosage of ketamine was too much for this individual, and it resulted in an overdose,” Cina wrote. “I believe that Mr. McClain would most likely be alive but for the administration of ketamine.”
Last year, a state grand jury indicted three police officers — Randy Roedema, Nathan Woodyard, and Jason Rosenblatt — and two paramedics, Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec.
The five face 32 charges, including manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.
Their arraignment is set for November.