Elijah McClain’s death attributed to ketamine used by police

Disturbing details have emerged following the publication of an amended autopsy report into the death Elijah McClain — a 23-year-old black man who died in police custody back in 2019 — added, as a Denver coroner said, “complications of ketamine administration after forcible restraint.”

Medical Examiner Stephen Cinas updated autopsy results for McClain, which were changed in July 2021 but released until Friday after a Denver District Court judge granted the medical examiner’s emergency request, according to CNN.

For three years, the original report had only listed his death as “undetermined,” which failed to note whether his cause of death was natural, accidental, or a homicide.

“Suspicious Person” Call Leads to McClain’s Death After Officer and EMT’s “Forcible Injection” Injected Him with Ketamine

Back in August 2019, police responded to a call about a “suspicious person.”

That person ended up being McClain, who was wearing a black ski mask at the time he was placed in a neck restraint and injected with ketamine after buying iced tea at a nearby corner store.

He relapsed after being forcibly restrained, and eventually suffered a heart attack on the way to the hospital.

Three days later he was declared brain dead.

Medical examiner updates autopsy report: McClain “would still be alive” if not for ketamine administration

Cina’s amended autopsy report noted that “the dosage of ketamine was too high for this individual” and added that McClain would “most likely (still) be alive” if not for the administration of ketamine,” according to CNN.

“Simply put, this dose of ketamine was too much for this individual, resulting in an overdose, even though the ketamine blood level was consistent with a ‘therapeutic’ concentration,” Cina wrote. “I believe Mr. McClain would most likely be alive but for the administration of ketamine.”

The changes were reportedly made after the medical examiner’s office received “body camera footage, witness statements and additional records that were part of the grand jury investigation or available when the original autopsy was performed.”

Body Camera Footage Shows McClain’s Final Moments As He Begged For His Life As Officers Detained Him

Body cam footage obtained by 9 News had previously been leaked to the public, showing McClain struggling with officers who told them he was “an introvert” and that he needed to go home as he begged police to stop.

“Relax or I’m going to have to change this situation,” one of the officers can be heard saying. “We don’t want to do this… Now stop fighting or you will be tasted.”

McClain himself could be heard profusely apologizing to officers, telling them he couldn’t “breathe properly” as he threw up from the pressure on his neck and chest.

While the update to McClain’s autopsy report provides some more clarity to his family regarding the nature of his death, the exact cause of death of McClain remains listed as “undetermined,” despite the medical examiner’s updated autopsy report.

AURORA, CO – OCTOBER 01: Sheneen McClain, center, mother of Elijah McClain, speaks during a press conference in front of the Aurora Municipal Center on October 1, 2019. Family, friends, legal counsel, local pastors and community organizers called for justice for the officer- involved the death of her son, who died at a hospital after an Aug. 24 incident involving Aurora police. (Photo by Andy Cross/MediaNewsGroup/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Autopsy report still lists McClain’s death as ‘undetermined’, Colorado judge moves forward with cases against officers involved

In fact, parts of the new report come to the defense of the responding police officers, and Cina wrote that he had “seen no evidence that police-inflicted injuries contributed to (his) death.”

McClain’s family won a $15 million civil rights lawsuit against the city of Aurora last November, The shadow room previously reported.

A Colorado judge also found enough evidence to move the cases forward for the five former police officers involved in McClain’s death.

Since his death, there have been numerous vigils and Black Lives Matter protests in McClain’s name.


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