What You Need to Know About Elijah McClain’s Death

On November 8, 2019, Elijah McClain died after an encounter with police in Aurora Colorado on August 24, 2019.

The District Attorney determined that no crime had been committed, and the case was dropped. But protests came, and even stopped city council meetings, and now in the wake of the post-George-Floyd activism, a special prosecutor has been appointed to review the case.

This post reviews the publicly available evidence and shows something quite sinister is probably at play.

The Evidence Surrounding Elijah McClain’s Death

According to the incident report of the District Attorney, which you can read here, the following reason is why the police were called:

On Saturday, August 24, 2019 at 10:32 p.m., the Aurora Police Department Communications Center (Dispatch) received a 911 call from J.V. describing a suspicious black male wearing a ski mask, “acting weird” by “waving his arms around” in the area of Billing Street and East Evergreen Streen in the City of Aurora.

You can view the full body camera footage here. In it, we find some strange behaviors of Elijah McClain. From the beginning, the 911 caller describes him active very strangely, waving his arms around, and wearing a ski-mask. While you may think this is normal in Colorado in November, remember that he died in November 2019, but the arrest happened on August 24, 2019. It was about 68 degrees outside at the time. That is not ski-mask weather.

When we see the first body-camera footage, it is clear that Elijah McClain is already on the ground. Not much is happening, but he is speaking incoherently as officers wait for EMS responders.

If you’d like to see the stop, you can see it here, at 9:20 in the video. From the flashing light behind McClain, it seems that he has already walked away from one group of officers. We get the following break-down of the situation from the incident report:

As Officer Woodyard approached Mr. McClain on foot, again telling him to stop. Mr. McClain said, “I have a right to go where I am going.” Officer Woodyard responded, “I have a right to stop you because you’re being suspicious.” Officer Woodyard grabbed Mr. McClain’s left arm. Mr. McClain immediately tightened up his arms and pulled them to his chest. Officer Rosenblatt grabbed Mr. McClain’s right arm just as Officer Woodyard grabbed Mr. McClain’s left arm. Officer Roedema arrived on scene seconds later. Mr. McClain was clutching to his chest a plastic style shopping bag with items in it. Officers did not know the contents of this bag. Officer Woodyard later told Detective Ingui that he was telling the male to calm down because he thought the male might have weapons on his person and wanted to be conduct a “pat down” search for weapons given the circumstances. According to Officer Woodyard, this area of East Colfax Avenue was known for criminal activity, and the male was reported by a citizen to be acting suspicious, while wearing a ski mask on a warm August night. Officer Woodyard described Mr. McClain as not relaxing or allowing himself to be searched.

An officer can be heard on a body warn camera saying “stop tensing up dude, stop tensing up.” Mr. McClain then said, “let me go, no let me go, I am an introvert, please respect my boundaries that I am speaking.” One of the officers said, “relax” and Mr. McClain responded, “I am going home.” An officer said, “relax or I am going to have to change this situation.” Mr. McClain said, “leave me alone.” Officer Roedema said, “stop sir, can you please cooperate, we are going to talk to you.” Mr. McClain responded, “can you leave me alone, you guys started to arrest me and I was stopping my music to listen, now let me go.” Officers can be heard saying, “let’s get him over to the grass.” This appeared to escalate the situation, as Mr. McClain says, “I intend to take my power back, I intend to be censored, I intend to be censored.” As Mr. McClain is saying this, Officer Roedema said, “He just grabbed your gun.”

Thinking About the Evidence

So let me ask the following pointed questions:

  • Obviously, no one like to be stopped by the police, but is it “normal” or “recommended” to refuse to stop when an officer points at you and asks you to stop?
  • Obviously, someone’s unprepared words are not the same as prepared remarks, but does “I am an INTROVERT! Please respect the boundaries I am speaking!” give evidence of someone who is in a normal state of mind?
  • What do you take “I intend to take my power back. I intend to be censored. I intend to be censored.” to mean?
  • What is the significance of the officer observing “He just grabbed your gun”? (Note, it does not seem he was able to gain control of the gun, but he did grab it, and this was the reason the officers restrained him the way they did.)

Does Elijah McClain seem like a person in a normal state of mind? Are “the officers” the only possible reason that you can think of that led Elijah McClain to die?

Have you seen this picture of Elijah McClain?

Have you seen this image of him after his encounter with the police?

Elijah McClain in the hospital after his encounter with the Aurora Police Department Photo courtesy of Sheneen McClain

Note that the skin problems on his face are probably the result of the hospital tape, and not injuries from police.

What EXACTLY is the claim of murder here? Nobody can really say, but they have certainly demanded a prosecution and claimed murder.

How Did Elijah McClain Die?

I cannot find the text of the autopsy at this time, but we do have the following information from news reports. The cause of death (which is where the coroner has a limited list of options like “accident” or “natural causes” or “homicide” and the like) is “undetermined.”

Additionally, in the incident report, we have the following large quote from the coroner’s findings:

The decedent was violently struggling with officers who were attempting to restrain him. Most likely the decedent’s physical exertion contributed to death. It is unclear if the officers’ actions contributed as well. It is also unclear whether the decedent displayed unusual behavior and enhanced strength. These features are commonly seen in Excited Delirium. The decedent was not hyperthermic (febrile) upon admission to the hospital and there was no history of a pre-existent severe mental illness (e.g. schizophrenia). There was also no history of stimulant drug use (e.g. cocaine, methamphetamine) and no such drugs were detected in his blood at the time of hospital admission. Nonetheless, the patient’s sudden collapse after an intense struggle is commonly seen in Excited Delirium. It is thought that when adrenaline levels drop, potassium levels surge resulting in an arrythmia. This mechanism may well explain his cardiac arrest which led to anoxic encephalopathy.

In summary, the manner of death may be accident if it was an idiosyncratic drug reaction. It may be natural if the decedent had an undiagnosed mental illness that led to Excited Delirium, if his intense physical exertion combined with a narrow coronary artery led to an arrhythmia, if he had an asthma attack, or if he aspirated vomit while restrained. It may be a homicide if the actions of the officers led to his death (e.g. the carotid control hold led to stimulation of the carotid sinus resulting in an arrhythmia). Based on my review of the EMS reports, hospital records, bodycam footage from the restraining officers, and the autopsy findings, I cannot determine which manner of death is most likely.

Did you see that? “Excited Delirium.” I have already written extensively on what police training in response to Excited Delirium is.

The local news report quoted above also says the following:

A toxicology analysis revealed McClain had THC and other cannabinoids in his system when he was taken into the hospital. McClain was also hospitalized in 2016 for LSD intoxication with “hyperactive and erratic behavior,” according to the report.

So, Elijah McClain was on drugs. When you watch the video, it is obvious that his is definitely on drugs. It is also obvious that he reached for an officer’s gun before they were able to restrain him. After they are able to restrain him, he continues to babble incoherently, repeating that he is a vegetarian, that he is an introvert, that he is just different.

It is also clear from about 11:17 in the video and at 58:00 in the video that once the officers get control of him, he is being restrained on his side, making sure that he can breath, (not prone, as George Floyd was), and they work with him to let him spit out vomit that was produced during the struggle, and be comfortable as they wait for the EMS professionals. At one point one of the officers says “He almost did a push up with all three of us on his back.” Which, looking at pictures of McClain and the officers restraining him, is IMPRESSIVE (though probably drug-induced).

Therefore, what is also obvious is that the officers believed that Elijah McClain was suffering Excited Delirium (which is the reason for the large group of officers, the restraint, and the instruction from the 911 operator not to approach him). McClain had a history of LSD intoxication with “hyperactive and erratic behavior,” which sounds a lot like what happened here.

According to this medical article distributed by the CDC, Excited Delirium is usually a reaction of the drug Cocaine, though Meth and LSD are also related. THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) is not associated with Excited Delirium, but certain mental conditions (like mania, depression, and schizophrenia) are connected to Excited Delirium. I do not know about THC’s effect on these mental conditions. I also do not know Elijah’s McClain’s medical conditions.

What is clear is that the officers give him ketamine to try and see if that will keep him from resisting so they can get him on a stretcher. The EMS responder says “let’s give him that and give it a few minutes to see how that works.”

He is obviously still moving and conscious (though not entirely coherent and not resisting) when he is transferred onto the gurney and into the custody of the EMS responders. There are at least 9 people working together at this point to treat him.

Elijah McClain calmed down after receiving the ketamine, but then the EMS responder noticed that his chest was not rising on its own. They proceeded to give chest compression, and took him to the hospital. He was declared brain dead three days later on August 27, 2019 at 3:51 p.m.

What Are The Conclusions?

We do not know that Elijah McClain died of a reaction to ketamine, as the amount of ketamine found in his blood was within the therapeutic levels (which means within the recommended and safe treatment levels of the drug). Therefore, it is POSSIBLE that McClain had an “idiosyncratic drug reaction” to the ketamine (which basically means “unexpected reaction that is not normal”), but there is no evidence that the ketamine killed him.

There is also no evidence that the restraint killed him, as McClain was conscious and active even after being restrained, and we doing fine after the officers handed him over to the fire department. This is why the coroner could not say that the officers’ action contributed to his death, even though it is techically POSSIBLE.

The coroner also notes that McClain’s “intense physical exertion and narrow left coronary artery” may have contributed to his death, which would be a preexisting condition that becomes a problem due to the fight with the officers.

The Activist Descend

Regardless, the activist are currently bringing up the injection of McClain with ketamine by EMS responders as highly suspicious. See this opinion article for example. Or see this change.org petition.

What they all ignore is that ketamine is currently one of the recommended measures to treat Excited Delirium. Ketamine is a powerful drug that can be used as a sedative. It can also be abused due to its psychotropic effects. But noteworthy is that in the same medical article distributed by the CDC quoted above, ketamine that is given by medical professionals is recommended as the best treatment to save the lives of those suffering Excited Delirium. It is currently the best-available life-saving option, among very few options. Note: I didn’t say that it is a “good” method. I said it is currently the “best available” method. There are not many good options out there for Excited Delirium, other than “don’t do drugs.” Of those exhibiting signs of Excited Delirium encountered by police, two-thirds of them die before reaching the hospital.

The Non-Prosecution of the Officers

So despite the activist you see posting and ranting on the news, there is a simple reason why there was no prosecution of the officers at the time:

  • They did precisely what they were trained to do to save Elijah McClain’s life.
  • There is no evidence from the coroner that the officer’s actions killed Elijah McClain.
  • The people who supposedly “killed” Elijah McClain are not the officers but the EMS first-responders who injected Elijah McClain with an therapeudic amount of ketamine. There is no evidence of a ketamine overdose.
  • Normal people with ordinary health don’t have heart attacks when being restrained by law enforcement officers.
  • The officers deliberately moved from the concrete to the grass to make the restrain less restrictive and paintful.
  • Elijah McClain was not acting normally, was resisting arrest, and grabbed at an officer’s gun while the officers were restraining him waiting for EMS.
  • The death couldn’t even be ruled a homicide by the coroner (which isn’t even proof of a crime if it was).
  • While a neck restraint was used to try to prevent Elijah McClain from over-exerting himself, there is no evidence that the neck restraint contributed to his death.
  • In other words, there is literally zero evidence that leads to murder, or any criminal conduct for that matter.

The Present Investigation of the Officers

Despite these facts, we now have a special prosecutor assigned to review the officers’ actions. Here is why that is the case:

The Warning

There is something very grave about this incident, which is even clearer than the matter of the prosecution of the officers involved in George Floyd’s death. What is abundantly clear is that there was no crime committed here. People trying to protect the community and save someone’s life failed. That is what happened.

There is literally no evidence that the EMS responders did something wrong. Even though the EMS responders’ injection of ketamine is being blamed for the death, no one is trying to prosecute the EMS responders. Strange….

There is literally no evidence that the officers intended to kill Elijah McClain. There is literally no evidence that the officers DID kill Elijah McClain. There is overwhelming evidence that they literally followed their training answering a 911 call that sought help for a strange man, and attempted to save his life, but failed. Had they succeeded, you never would have heard about this.

There is overwhelming evidence that Elijah McClain was NOT healthy at the time he was approached by the officers, was on drugs, and had a history of LSD abuse.

Finally, there is overwhelming evidence that everyone did everything right, but Elijah McClain still died.

AND YET, the activist are IGNORING the evidence, pretending that ketamine is some sort of officer-preferred method-of-murder, shutting down the democratic process, and demanding that the state bend to the will of the mob and prosecute the officers.

This is not a “protest.” This is not “justice.” This is a mob with a purpose. This is a revolution.


Citizens, get ready. This is a revolution. Activists are lying ON PURPOSE and taking in many well-meaning people in the process.

Therefore, reject lies, and never apologize for rejecting lies. NEVER believe them. Be brave. Stand up, and do not be ashamed. When evil people come to you, march down your street, or destroy your towns, and push you to prosecute obviously innocent people, don’t do it.

Do not pass the responsibility to recognize the truth to someone else. Tell the truth. And walk blamelessly, because the times are evil.

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