Officers On Leave After Photos Surface Of Them Near Where Elijah McClain Died

(Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

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Kaylee Greenlee Immigration and Extremism Reporter
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Police officers photographed last summer near where Elijah McClain died in Colorado were placed on paid leave, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

McClain died following an altercation in which white police officers held him in a chokehold and paramedics injected him with a sedative in a Denver, Colorado, suburb, the AP reported. One officer, at the beginning of the incident, ordered McClain to stop walking and said he was “being suspicious.”

“Multiple sources say three Aurora Police Department officers under investigation for taking inappropriate photos at a memorial for Elijah Mclain. Aurora PD tells CBS Denver ‘An IA is in progress regarding photographs that were taken at that location,” CBS4 Denver Investigative Reporter Brian Maass tweeted.

The internal investigation of the officers who were “depicted in photographs near the site where Elijah McClain died,” was completed Monday night, according to Aurora Interim Police Chief Vanessa Wilson, the AP reported. Wilson did not disclose the number of officers suspended or what the photos revealed.

The photos were reported to the department’s internal affairs division by an unnamed officer on June 25. (RELATED: Colorado Attorney General To Investigate Death Of Elijah McClain As Special Prosecutor)

“This is a department where officers tackled an innocent young black man for no reason, inflicted outrageous force — including two carotid chokeholds — for fifteen minutes as he pled for his life, joked when he vomited, and threatened to sic a dog on him for not lying still enough as he was dying,” McClain’s family members said in a statement, the AP reported.

Leading up to his death, body camera footage, according to the AP, shows an officer telling McClain: “Stop right there. Stop. Stop … I have a right to stop you because you’re being suspicious.”

When the officer began to arrest McClain, he told McClain to “stop tensing up” and “relax, or I’m going to have to change this situation.”

McClain told the officers, according to the AP: “You guys started to arrest me, and I was stopping my music to listen. Let go of me. I am an introvert. Please respect the boundaries I am speaking.”

Aurora police said McClain resisted arrest, the AP reported, noting that the massage therapist was on the ground for 15 minutes while police and paramedics stood by. He went into cardiac arrest before he was declared brain dead and removed from life support, according to the AP.

The death of George Floyd set off nationwide protests demanding justice for him, McClain and other black victims whose deaths were connected to police. Floyd died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, video of the incident shows.

An initial investigation of the officers who arrested McClain did not result in criminal charges, AP reported. However, Democratic Colorado Gov. Jared Polis told Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser to reopen the investigation.

The results of the investigation along with the photographs will be available after Wilson decides how to respond to the official review, AP reported. The officers under investigation may appeal Wilson’s decision, which could also delay the results.

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