The City of Aurora, Colorado, has agreed to pay $15 million to the family of Elijah McClain to settle the civil rights lawsuit filed against the city in the wake of the 23-year-old’s violent arrest and subsequent death in 2019. The settlement was first announced in October but was finalized after a mediation hearing with McClain’s family members in US District Court on Friday.
The multi-million-dollar payout is the latest in a series of high-profile police misconduct settlements in which cities have paid millions of dollars to surviving family members. In Minneapolis, Minnesota, the family of George Floyd received a $27 million settlement. In Louisville, Kentucky, the family of Breonna Taylor, who was shot dead in a police raid, received a $12 million payment.
In August 2019, McClain, 23, was stopped by police while walking home from a store, placed in a carotid choke hold, and then injected with ketamine. His mother, Sheneen McClain, filed a federal lawsuit in 2020 against the City of Aurora and the police officers and fire department members involved in her son’s death. Last month, her attorneys announced the case had been settled in principle, resolving all claims in the federal civil rights case.
Just spoke to Sheneen McClain, Elijah McClain's mom, she said: "I still wish I had Elijah. Money's not ever going to bring back my son."
— Elise Schmelzer (@EliseSchmelzer) November 19, 2021
Aurora will pay $5 million of the settlement out of the city’s general fund, while the other $10 million will be covered by the city’s excess liability insurance policy. The Aurora City Council approved the $15 million at a meeting in July.
Qusair Mohamedbhai and Siddhartha Rathod, the attorneys for Elijah McClain's mother, Sheneen McClain, released a statement Thursday regarding the settlement terms. https://t.co/K8dZbCjOm6 pic.twitter.com/f2VlKRhnvn
— Denver7 News (@DenverChannel) November 18, 2021
In response to protests in Aurora and a viral online petition, Gov. Jared Polis announced a reexamination of Elijah’s case last year. Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser was appointed as special prosecutor and opened a grand jury investigation into the case in January. In September, a Colorado grand jury indicted three police officers and two fire department paramedics involved in McClain’s death. Each was indicted on charges of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide as part of a 32-count indictment.
Elijah McClain’s family filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against Colorado police and medical officials over McClain’s death. https://t.co/8J8g0N6bqw
— Twitter Moments (@TwitterMoments) August 11, 2020
The Colorado Attorney General’s Office launched a 14-month investigation into the Aurora police and fire departments. The investigation found the police department had a pattern of practicing racially biased policing and excessive force and had failed to record legally required information when interacting with the community.
🙏😢Violinist Elijah McClain, 23: Officer said in body camera footage that officers had “put him out” w a carotid hold twice, “at least once successfully.” Paramedics gave him Ketamine. He went into cardiac arrest on the way to hospital. He died a few days later. https://t.co/s78HBu0yPs pic.twitter.com/rkG17bl8Y2
— Sabe Penn (@CitiBE) November 20, 2021
“No amount of money will ever bring Elijah back to his mother,” Sheneen McClain’s attorney said in a statement..” Ms. McClain would return every cent for just one more day with her son. There will be an allocation hearing in the near future to determine the distribution of the settlement between Ms. McClain, who raised Elijah as a single parent, and the biological father.”