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Elijah McClain's Death: Colorado Police Pepper Spray Peaceful Protestors Demanding Officers Be Arrested

By Ryan Naumann

The police department involved in Elijah McClain’s death is being accused of pepper-spraying peaceful protestors demanding justice.

Over the weekend, thousands of people came out to protest Elijah’s death in City Center Park in Colorado. They are calling for charges to be brought against three Aurora police officers, Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt, and Randy Roedema.

Protestors were watching a violin performance to honor Elijah (who played the instrument) when Aurora Police officers came in like a military to forcibly remove people. In video posted on social media, the officers can be seen physically pushing the protestors out of the park and using pepper spray.

One person on Twitter shared a video of the situation writing, “As police in riot gear were spraying protesters with pepper spray and using batons to push them back at the #ElijahMcClain protest in Aurora today, this man began playing the violin. One of the most surreal scenes I’ve ever seen. Music is powerful.”

The crowd was moved into a parking lot but they continued the musical vigil for Elijah despite the police’s attempts to disrupt it.

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On August 24, 2019, 23-year-old Elijah Jovan McClain walked to the store to buy some ice tea. He was wearing a ski mask because he was anemic and would sometimes get cold.

On his way home, Elijah was approached by Aurora Police Department officers who claim to have received a 911 call reporting a “suspicious person” wearing a ski mask. The caller told the operator he did not feel like anyone was in danger.

Elijah was not armed, nor did he commit any crime.

Footage released from the scene shows Elijah pleading with officers to listen to him. He said, “I can’t breathe. I have my ID right here. My name is Elijah McClain. That’s my house. I was just going home. I’m an introvert. I’m just different. That’s all. I’m so sorry. I have no gun. I don’t do that stuff. I don’t do any fighting. Why are you attacking me? I don’t even kill flies! I don’t eat meat! But I don’t judge people, I don’t judge people who do eat meat. Forgive me. All I was trying to do was become better. I will do it. I will do anything. Sacrifice my identity, I’ll do it. You all are phenomenal. You are beautiful and I love you. Try to forgive me. I’m a mood Gemini. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Ow, that really hurt. You are all very strong. Teamwork makes the dream work. Oh, I’m sorry I wasn’t trying to do that. I just can’t breathe correctly.”


Three officers, Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt, and Randy Roedema, claim Elijah resisted arrest and proceeded to tackle him to the ground. Elijah was 5’6 and weighed only 140 pounds. The officers claim their body cams fell off as part of a struggle.

The officers forcibly held Elijah to the ground while paramedics shot Elijah with Ketamine to sedate him. On the way to the hospital, he suffered a cardiac arrest. He died seven days later in the hospital. The autopsy was inclusive on the cause of death.

The District Attorney, Dave Young, did not bring charges against any of the officers. He claims he did not have enough to arrest anyone involved. As a result of public outrage, Colorado Governor Jared Polis has announced the case is being reopened to determine if the officers should face criminal charges.

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