Colorado’s governor was appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the passing of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man assaulted by police who stopped him on the street in suburban Denver last year because he was “being suspicious.” Police in suburban Aurora received a call about a person wearing a ski mask and waving his arms as he walked down a street on August 24th, 2019. Footage from police body-camera video shows an officer who got out of his car and approached McClain, saying, “Stop right there. Stop. Stop.… I have a right to stop you because you’re being suspicious.” Police say McClain refused to stop walking and fought back when officers confronted him and tried to take him into custody. McCain also happened to be unarmed. 


Further along in the video, the officer turns McClain around and repeats, “Stop tensing up.” As McClain tries to escape the officer’s grip, the officer says, “Relax, or I’m going to have to change this situation.” When other officers join to restrain McClain, he begs them to let go and says, “You guys started to arrest me, and I was stopping my music to listen.” One of the officers put pressure on McClain that affected his circulation, something that has been banned in several areas as a result of Floyd’s death on May 25 and the protests that followed. 


The police video also shows McClain telling officers: “Let go of me. I am an introvert. Please respect the boundaries that I am speaking.” Those words have appeared on numerous social media posts demanding justice for McClain. McClain was kept on the ground for 15 minutes, then paramedics gave him 500 milligrams of a sedative to calm him down. McClain suffered a cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital and was declared deceased on Aug. 27. He was taken off life support three days later. All the officers were cleared of wrong-doing. 


A case of police brutality


What the officers did to McClain can be considered a case of police brutality. To an observer, it seems that the extent to which the officers used force may be unnecessary. Police brutality is usually defined as a case when excessive force is used – this can end sometimes with injuries, or even with loss of life. It might be difficult for victims of police brutality to build up a case and gather enough evidence for the purposes of winning a lawsuit over police officers and potentially their criminal defense lawyers. This is because of the degree of protection called “qualified immunity”, which is something that is granted to congressional officers, and may even protect them against lawsuits involving claims of excessive force. If you happen to be a victim of police brutality, a qualified attorney would be able to help build your case.