In August 2019, Elijah McClain, 23, was killed after he was put in a chokehold by police and injected with a sedative by paramedics. His crime: Being a Black man in Aurora, Colo.
McClain’s death sparked a civil rights investigation that found that the Aurora Police Department has a history of racially biased policing and excessive use of force.
“These actions are unacceptable,” Colorado’s Attorney General Phil Weiser said, Wednesday, CBS News reports. “They hurt the people that law enforcement is entrusted to protect, and they destroy community trust.”
According to Weiser, the investigation “found that officers regularly applied more force than warranted without giving residents enough time to respond to commands. He said most of the underlying reasons behind these ‘failures’ are systemic and ‘severe cultural challenges’ created by several factors, including the department’s police culture, flawed discipline policies and hiring issues,” CBS News reports.
This was after investigators worked through some three million records and nearly 3,000 police reports.
“We’ll hold Aurora accountable for past patterns and practices,” Weiser said.
A grand jury indicted the officers and paramedics involved in McClain’s decathlon 32 counts earlier this month.
From CBS News:
The investigation, which is the first of its kind in the state, follows the passing of a comprehensive police reform bill that requires the attorney general to notify government agencies should “a pattern or practice” of violating people’s constitutional rights be found. Under the law, the accused agency has 60 days to implement changes before the attorney general can then take legal action.
“We’re prepared to move forward with legal action if necessary to address these issues,” Weiser said Wednesday.
Weiser noted that leadership must change the culture of the police and fire departments as well as a consent decree with his office.
“We see this as a unique opportunity,” Weiser said. “It’s a moment in time when we’re focused with Aurora, stepping back. How do we want to elevate? How do we want to improve? So it is a compelling opportunity. We intend to do our best to make the most of it.”