Mother of Black man who died after encounter with police in Colorado cancels rally
The mother of a young Black man who died after being placed in a chokehold by police in Aurora, Colorado, has canceled a planned march to commemorate the one-year anniversary of his death, saying she will not be “celebrating” the tragedy.
Sheneen McClain wrote on Facebook that she could no longer bear hearing protest chants of “I can’t breathe” - words her son, Elijah, 23, repeatedly uttered during his fatal struggle with police. She said that slogan has become so painful to her it amounted to “emotional abuse.”
“It’s not okay to repeat my son’s dying words because it’s all you think you can do ... that hurts me,” the mother said in the posting calling off a march that had been set for Sunday.
A separate rally honoring Elijah McClain and other African-Americans slain by law enforcement will go on as scheduled on Saturday at the state capitol in nearby Denver, organizers said.
Last week, the McClain family filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court against Aurora police officers who applied a carotid chokehold on Elijah McClain, and paramedics who injected him with the powerful sedative ketamine.
Elijah McClain was approached and subdued by three policemen on Aug. 24, 2019, responding to a report he was acting suspiciously, though he had committed no crime. He went into cardiac arrest after the encounter and died at a hospital days later.
Local prosecutors declined to file charges against police or paramedics, citing an autopsy listing the cause of death as undetermined.
The autopsy said that combined with the chokehold, ketamine could have contributed to his death. The family’s lawsuit disputes that he met criteria for injection with the drug.
Following a public outcry, Colorado’s attorney general launched two investigations, and the US Justice Department has initiated a civil rights inquiry.