3 Federal Agencies Confirm an Ongoing Investigation Into Elijah McClain’s Death for Potential Civil Rights Violations

Illustration for article titled 3 Federal Agencies Confirm an Ongoing Investigation Into Elijah McClain’s Death for Potential Civil Rights Violations

Photo: Michael Ciaglo (Getty Images)

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the Denver Division of the FBI released a joint statement Tuesday confirming that they have been reviewing the facts in the case of Elijah McClain, the 23-year-old Black man who died last August after an altercation with Aurora, Colo., police officers in which he was put in a chokehold. In the statement, the agencies said they have been reviewing the case for a “potential federal civil rights investigation” since 2019.


The statement begins with the departments noting that it’s a rare thing for a statement like this to be released while an investigation is still ongoing.

“The standard practice of the Department of justice is to not discuss the existence or progress of ongoing investigations,” the statement reads. “However, there are specific cases in which doing so is warranted if such information is in the best interest of the public and public safety. Recent attention on the death of Elijah McClain warrants such disclosure.”


So basically, McClain has been gone for nearly a year, but since the Black Lives Matter movement is now getting more worldwide attention than ever before, stories like his are getting more attention, and officials want the public to know that his case not being ignored and that actually, they “began reviewing the facts” last year.

The statement also mentioned that they are “aware of recent media reports about Aurora police officers being placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation into a photograph in which those officers appeared. We are gathering further information about that incident to determine whether a federal civil rights investigation is warranted.”

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On Tuesday, The Root reported that three Aurora Police Department officers allegedly took pictures reenacting the chokehold that McClain was put in. This happened during a memorial for McClain held near the site where the altercation with police occurred.

According to Denver 7, the photos were exchanged between officers in a group text in October 2019 and were reported to the department by a fellow officer last Thursday.


Hopefully, having three different federal agencies look into the behavior of Aurora police officers yield results. They clearly have a lot to answer for.