A look at a Colorado Black man's death in police encounter

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A supporter holds up a shirt to call attention to the death of Elijah McClain in August 2019 in Aurora, Colo., during a news conference on the west steps of the State Capitol after Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed a broad police accountability bill Friday, June 19, 2020, in downtown Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER – Amid the protests across the U.S. against excessive police force against people of color, Elijah McClain’s name has become another rallying cry.

McClain, a 23-year-old Black man in the Denver suburb of Aurora, died in August after police officers confronted him as he was walking to a store. Officers put him in a chokehold and injected him with a sedative.

Here's what we know:


McClain was a massage therapist who planned to go to college, his younger sister, Samara McClain, told The Denver Post. McClain’s friends and family said he was as “a spiritual seeker, pacifist, oddball, vegetarian, athlete, and peacemaker who was exceedingly gentle,” according to the Colorado Sentinel.

Samara McClain said her brother often wore masks when he was outside because he had a blood condition that caused him to become cold easily. She also said that her brother was walking to a corner store to get tea for a cousin when someone contacted police to report a suspicious person wearing a ski mask on a warm evening and waving his arms as he walked down a street on Aug. 24.


According to a report by District Attorney Dave Young, Aurora officers responding to the report said McClain was uncooperative when they confronted him. They said they took McClain to the ground when he tried to grab one of their holstered guns. One of the officers then put him in a specialized control hold, pressing against his carotid artery.