A group of Aurora, Colorado police officers are under investigation after being accused of posing for photos at the location where Elijah McClain died at the hands of police last year, PEOPLE magazine reported.
McClain, 23, was reportedly walking home from a convenience store on August 24, 2019, when police responded to a call of a “suspicious man” with a ski mask. Officers detained him by placing him in a chokehold. Three days later, he was declared brain dead.
Aurora PD interim police chief Vanessa Wilson said in a statement that the situation was being reviewed.
“Thursday afternoon, I was apprised of allegations reported to Internal Affairs by an Aurora Police Officer alleging multiple Aurora Police officers were depicted in photographs near the site where Elijah McClain died. All involved officers were immediately placed on administrative leave with pay in non-enforcement capacities,” Wilson said.
“I immediately ordered Internal Affairs to make this investigation their top priority. This accelerated investigation was completed this evening,” she continued.
She added that the results of the investigation will be released to the public, including reports, photographs, the names of the officers and her final determination, which could lead to the firing of the officers.
CBS Denver reported that three officers are under investigation for taking the photos and are depicted re-enacting the chokehold that was used on McClain. They were removed from patrol duty last week.
McClain’s family issued a statement of their own in reaction to the news through their attorney.
“Just when we thought the Aurora Police could not be any worse, they somehow find a new low,” the statement read. “This is a department where officers tackled an innocent young black man for no reason, inflicted outrageous force – including two carotid chokeholds – for fifteen minutes as he pled for his life, joked when he vomited, and threatened to sic a dog on him for not lying still enough as he was dying.
“They tampered with their body cameras to hide the evidence,” it continued. “They exonerated the killers. They deployed riot police and spewed pepper gas on peaceful protestors [sic] at a vigil of mourners playing the violin. And now this.”
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis appointed the state’s attorney general Phil Weiser to reopen the investigation into McClain’s death last week.
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