The family of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who died in 2019 after the police in Aurora, Colo., restrained him with a chokehold maneuver that has since been banned, has reached a settlement with the city, an official and lawyers for his parents said on Tuesday.
Ryan Luby, a spokesman for the city of Aurora, confirmed in a statement that the settlement had been reached in principle over the summer to resolve a civil rights lawsuit that Mr. McClain’s family filed in 2020, after Mr. McClain’s “tragic death.”
Mr. Luby said that city leaders would sign it after family members agreed on how the settlement money would be allocated. He said the parties could not disclose the amount of the settlement “until those issues are resolved and the agreement is in its final form.”
The settlement was discussed earlier this month in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. A court filing says that Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter held a hearing on Oct. 8 to discuss the logistics of how the lawsuit would be resolved.
Mr. McClain’s parents, Sheneen McClain and Lawayne Mosley, filed the lawsuit on Aug. 11, 2020, seeking damages for the family. The city of Aurora, 12 police officers, two Fire Department paramedics and the department’s medical director were named as defendants.
Separately, a Colorado grand jury indicted three police officers and two paramedics last month on charges including manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.
The settlement brought some relief to Mr. McClain’s relatives, lawyers for the family said.
Mari Newman, the lawyer for Mr. Mosley, said in a statement: “Nothing will bring back his son Elijah, who he loved dearly, but he is hopeful that this settlement with Aurora, and the criminal charges against the officers and medics who killed Elijah, will allow his family and the community to begin to heal.”
Iris Halpern, who is representing Ms. McClain, said in a telephone interview on Tuesday that Elijah’s mother “feels that at least some justice has been done” after the settlement, but that it was not as important to her as the criminal case.
“Elijah McClain is not with us, and her family is going to have to live with that forever,” Ms. Halpern said.
She said in a statement that the court would determine how to allocate the funds between “Ms. McClain, the parent who raised Elijah McClain by herself, and Lawayne Mosley, the absent biological father.”
As outrage over police brutality erupted across the country after George Floyd’s death last year, older cases in which Black people died after encounters with the police received renewed attention. Mr. McClain’s death was one of them.
On Aug. 24, 2019, Mr. McClain was walking home from a convenience store when someone called 911, saying he “looked sketchy” and that he was wearing a ski mask and waving his arms.
After the police arrived, officers grabbed Mr. McClain’s arms, pushed him against a wall and pulled him to the ground. They subdued him with a “carotid hold,” which restricts blood to the brain.
Mr. McClain told the officers that he was simply walking home and asked them to let him go, according to an independent review.
“I’m an introvert and I’m different,” Mr. McClain told the police, according to audio recordings from the stop. “I’m just different. That’s all. That’s all I was doing. I’m so sorry.”
When emergency medical workers arrived, they injected him with ketamine, a powerful sedative.
Mr. McClain, unconscious, was taken to a hospital and never recovered. He was removed from life support and died on Aug. 30. The Adams County coroner said the cause of death was “undetermined,” and that it could have been a result of natural causes, a homicide related to the carotid hold or an accident.
“In a span of 18 minutes, defendants subjected Elijah to a procession of needless and brutal force techniques and unnecessary, recklessly administered medication, the combined effects of which he could not survive,” the lawsuit filed by the family said
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