The FBI and federal prosecutors have been reviewing Elijah McClain’s death for a potential civil rights investigation since last year.
The review is ongoing, federal authorities say, and the city of Aurora has been cooperating.
“The standard practice of the Department of Justice is to not discuss the existence or progress of ongoing investigations. However, there are specific cases in which doing so is warranted if such information is in the best interest of the public and public safety,” the FBI and Colorado’s U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a joint statement issued Tuesday night.
The statement also cited recent reports that Aurora police officers have been placed on leave during an internal investigation into photographs of the officers near where McClain was arrested last summer. “We are gathering further information about that incident to determine whether a federal civil rights investigation is warranted.”
The statement added: “We will have no further comment until both of those reviews are completed.”
McClain, 23, died after he was stopped by Aurora police officers responding to a report of a suspicious person on Aug. 24, 2019. A struggle ensued and officers used a carotid-pressure hold, which cuts off blood to the brain, to subdue him.
A responding paramedic gave McClain a ketamine injection, after which McClain stopped breathing and no longer had a pulse. He died on Aug. 30, 2019, after being removed from life support.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis last week appointed Attorney General Phil Weiser as a special prosecutor to review the case. Aurora has also initiated an independent review.
McClain’s case has received renewed interest in recent weeks following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis. People across the country have called for action in Aurora and thousands of demonstrators gathered in the city east of Denver over the weekend to voice their outrage.
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