Elijah McClain cause of death quietly ruled as ketamine as police face charges for violent 2019 arrest

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Colorado officials quietly decided in 2021 that Elijah McClain, an unarmed Black man who died during a violent 2019 arrest, perished because of an injection of ketamine from paramedics on scene, according to newly released documents.

Three Aurora Police Department officers and two paramedics are facing charges related to the arrest, though it’s unclear how the case will proceed, since the Adams County coroner decided in July as part of a grand jury investigation that the manner of death remains “undetermined,” Colorado Public Radio reports.

Police encountered McClain in August of 2019 while responding to a call about a suspicious person. McClain, an austistic musician and massage therapist, was not wanted for any crime, but police believed the young man fit the description for the call.

At the time of his arrest, he was wearing a ski mask his family said was used to stop the anemic 23-year-old from getting chills. McClain had headphones in and didn’t respond to calls from police, who put him in a cartoid chokehold as he pleaded he couldn’t breathe and struggled with officers.

Paramedics on scene ultimately decided McClain was experiencing “excited delirium,” a highly controversial diagnosis that police often claim justifies the use of force, even as many medical experts doubt its credibility. The first responders ultimately injected McClain with a large dose of ketamine, a powerful anesethetic, and he lost consciousness and was declared brain dead three days later.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated with new information.