July 28, 2021

The killing of Elijah McClain and the silent crisis of racism in suburban policing

One officer “choked, slapped, and slammed” a 12-year-old Black girl, whom he also insulted with an ugly racial slur, according to allegations contained in a legal filing. After being involved in another, unrelated incident where he was accused of racism, he lost his job, only to win it back after an appeal. He remains a member of the police department in Aurora, a suburb of Denver.

Also on the Aurora police force is the officer who in 2003 killed Jamaal Bonner, an unarmed Black man. And the officers who in 2010 violently confronted Rickey Burrell, a Black man who was having a seizure. The department eventually settled a lawsuit filed by Burrell, who accused officers of fracturing his wrist and injuring his back.

The Aurora Police Department has recently been in the news for what happened on Aug. 24, 2019, when three of its officers tried to arrest Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who was walking home from a grocery store. The officers choked and then restrained McClain, ignoring his cries of distress. Emergency responders injected him with ketamine instead of offering medical help, which McClain desperately needed and would not get in time. He suffered cardiac arrest and died two days later.


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