Colorado health officials have launched an investigation into the use of the sedative ketamine, which paramedics injected into Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old man who died while in police custody in Colorado, according to a report.
McClain was stopped by cops in Aurora in August while walking home from a store and placed in a chokehold after a 911 call about a suspicious person in the area. He told police, “I can’t breathe.”
The massage therapist, who was black, was injected with ketamine by paramedics and went into cardiac arrest. He was declared brain-dead and was taken off life support days later.
Federal officials have revealed that they were reviewing his death as a potential civil rights violation.
The probe was launched after the state Department of Public Health and Environment received “numerous” complaints regarding “a ketamine administration in August 2019,” ABC News reported, citing a statement from the department.
The department did not provide specifics about the probe, except to say it was ongoing.
McClain, whose name was not explicitly mentioned, was administered the anesthetic on Aug. 24, according to the network.
Ketamine, which has been used illegally as the club drug Special K, produces an intense high and dissociative effects.
An autopsy did not determine McClain’s cause of death but listed intense physical exertion and a narrow coronary artery as contributing factors, CNN reported, citing the police overview.
The coroner found the amount of the anesthetic in his system to be a therapeutic level.
In June, the Denver division of the FBI, the Colorado US Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice said they had been reviewing the case for potential civil rights violations since last year.
The three cops involved in his stop were put on non-enforcement duty. They had been placed on leave last August, but returned to the force when a local prosecutor said there was insufficient evidence to support charging them.
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