Independent Report Is Highly Critical of Colorado Police in Death of Elijah McClain

At one point, Officer Roedema can be heard on police body camera video saying, “He grabbed your gun, dude.” That escalated the confrontation. Officer Woodyard, who was holding Mr. McClain’s left arm, later told investigators that after that comment, his goal was to “take him down to the ground as hard” as he could.

Ms. Newman, the lawyer for Mr. McClain’s father, disputes this detail, saying it was “clearly fabricated” by the officers in order to justify their behavior. She also said that the officers’ guns were in “security holsters” and couldn’t easily be removed.

Officer Rosenblatt said he applied a carotid hold to Mr. McClain’s neck for about one second as the officers were wrestling the 5-foot-7 Mr. McClain to the ground, according to the report. A carotid hold, according to the report, is the application of pressure “to the left and right sides of a subject’s neck to deprive the brain of oxygen and induce unconsciousness.”

While Mr. McClain was on the ground, Officer Woodyard applied another carotid hold to him.

The officers “applied pain compliance techniques and restraints to Mr. McClain continuously from the first moments of the encounter until he was taken away on a gurney,” the report said.

As the officers did this, the report said, Mr. McClain can be heard on police body video saying: “You all are phenomenal, you are beautiful. Forgive me.”

“Ow, that really hurt,” he said. “You guys are too strong.”

According to the report, Mr. McClain said as his voice trailed off, “It’s just that I can’t breathe correctly because …”

When emergency medical workers arrived, they appeared “to have accepted the officers’ impression that Mr. McClain had excited delirium without corroborating that impression through meaningful observation or diagnostic examination of Mr. McClain,” the report said.


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