Three Colorado cops placed on leave after ‘re-enacting the chokehold used on Elijah McClain’

Three Colorado cops are placed on leave after photos emerge of them ‘re-enacting the chokehold used on Elijah McClain during his police death’ at a memorial for the 23-year-old where silent protesters were pepper-sprayed

Three officers from the Aurora, Colorado, police department have been place on paid leave pending an investigation after they were allegedly depicted posing in photographs near to a site where Elijah McClain died in police custody.

Aurora Interim Police Chief Vanessa Wilson released a statement late Monday saying she learned of the apparent images on Thursday and ‘immediately’ ordered an Internal Affairs investigation as a ‘top priority’.

Wilson declined to specify what the photographs showed, when they were taken or what the officers were doing near the memorial for McClain, whose death in August last year has been at the center of protests throughout Colorado against racism and police brutality.

However, sources told CBS Denver the photographs allegedly show the three officers re-enacting the carotid restraint that was used on McClain during his fatal arrest near the 1900 block of Billings Street.

The Aurora Police Department has not yet returned a DailyMail.com request for comment on the claims.

Elijah McClain
Wilson declined to specify what the photographs showed, when they were taken or what the officers were doing near the memorial for McClain, whose death in August last year has been at the center of protests throughout Colorado against racism and police brutality.

Wilson declined to specify what the photographs showed, when they were taken or what the officers were doing near the memorial for McClain, whose death in August last year has been at the center of protests throughout Colorado against racism and police brutality.

However, the photographs allegedly show the three officers re-enacting the carotid restraint that was used on McClain during his fatal arrest near the 1900 block of Billings Street in August 2019 (shown above)

However, the photographs allegedly show the three officers re-enacting the carotid restraint that was used on McClain during his fatal arrest near the 1900 block of Billings Street in August 2019 (shown above)

The images were said to have been disseminated within Aurora PD between several officers, CBS’ Brian Maass reported. It’s unclear if the officers were on duty or were wearing their uniforms when the purported images were taken.

In her statement, Wilson said the investigation will be publicly released on its conclusion, which will include photographic evidence in addition to the officers’ names.

Lt. Chris Amsler, a spokesman with the Aurora Police Department, said police are investigating whether the photos of the officers near the site of McClain’s death violate any department policies and if a recommendation for any punishment should be issued.

At the scene where the images were said to be taken, near City Center Park,  members of the Aurora PD were seen pepper spraying peaceful protesters Sunday during a violin performance to honor McClain’s memory.

The presence of the police was sudden. At one point only the noise of the violinists could be heard before the police suddenly began storming the gathering to the crowd’s cries of ‘No!’.

In one video of the altercation, a woman can be heard yelling at the police to ‘stop’ as officers in riot gear began forcibly removing demonstrators out of the park and administering pepper spray.

The protesters continued to stand their ground for as long as they could with some even forming a human chain around the violinists to protect them from police. 

Eventually, the demonstration was forced into a parking lot, where musicians continued to play violin and protesters broke out in song. 

The McClain family’s lawyer, Mari Newman, had been at the vigil with Elijah’s two younger sisters when police began forcefully dispersing the crowd.

She called the police response ‘brutal, totally uncalled for and outrageous,’ to TMZ

Aurora Interim Police Chief Vanessa Wilson (above) released a statement late Monday saying she learned of the apparent images on Thursday and ‘immediately’ ordered an Internal Affairs investigation as a ‘top priority’.

Aurora Interim Police Chief Vanessa Wilson (above) released a statement late Monday saying she learned of the apparent images on Thursday and ‘immediately’ ordered an Internal Affairs investigation as a ‘top priority’.

Protester and violinist, Jukka Pawley, continues to play music to honor Elijah McClain, as Aurora police fire tear gas into the crowd behind him during a vigil in Aurora, Colorado

Protester and violinist, Jukka Pawley, continues to play music to honor Elijah McClain, as Aurora police fire tear gas into the crowd behind him during a vigil in Aurora, Colorado

The scene was both surreal and chaotic as musicians continued to play their violins as protesters and police in riot gear closed in around them. Protester and violinist, Stephanie Gangemi, continues to play

The scene was both surreal and chaotic as musicians continued to play their violins as protesters and police in riot gear closed in around them. Protester and violinist, Stephanie Gangemi, continues to play

Aurora police officers, dressed in riot gear, line up outside the Aurora Police Department Headquarters as people shout from behind a fence while protesting the death of Elijah McClain on Saturday

Aurora police officers, dressed in riot gear, line up outside the Aurora Police Department Headquarters as people shout from behind a fence while protesting the death of Elijah McClain on Saturday

McClain’s death last August has prompted a handful of small protests over the last 10 months, but his case has garnered renewed attention amid a global outcry sparked by the Memorial Day death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. 

McClain had been walking home on August 24, 2019, when someone called 911 to report him as acting suspiciously.

The caller told dispatchers that a ‘sketchy’ looking person was walking down Billings Street with a mask on, but made no mention of any crime. 

Family members say McClain used to wear a ski mask whenever he felt cold. He had just bought an ice tea from a convenience store when the 911 call was made.

McClain, who weighed 140lbs, was then tackled to the ground by cops shortly afterwards. It’s believed he may have been listening to music at the time and hadn’t heard the police approaching him.

After being handcuffed, Officer Nathan Woodyard applied a ‘carotid control hold’ around McClain’s neck, which restricts blood to the brain to render someone unconscious.

The 23-year-old vomited several times under the strain of Woodyard’s hold. A paramedic then gave him a shot of ketamine.

In body-cam footage of the fatal incident, McClain is heard pleading with the officers that, ‘I just can’t breathe correctly’. He went into cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital and died days later.

 Investigators said McClain resisted arrest. At one point in the body camera video, an officer is heard saying, ‘He’s going for your gun.’

McClain is heard telling officers he wasn’t resisting. He also told them he was an introvert, a vegetarian and was unable to hurt a fly.

McClain can be heard saying, ‘I’m just different. That’s all.’

The Aurora PD later determined that the three officers involved in McClain's death had acted within acceptable policy and training, with the district attorney overseeing the case declining to level any criminal charges against them

The Aurora PD later determined that the three officers involved in McClain’s death had acted within acceptable policy and training, with the district attorney overseeing the case declining to level any criminal charges against them

McClain, who weighed 140lbs, was tackled to the ground by cops shortly afterwards. After handcuffing him, Officer Nathan Woodyard applied a 'carotid control hold' around McClain's neck, which restricts blood to the brain to render someone unconscious.
McClain during his arrest

McClain, who weighed 140lbs, was tackled to the ground by cops shortly afterwards. After handcuffing him, Officer Nathan Woodyard applied a ‘carotid control hold’ around McClain’s neck, which restricts blood to the brain to render someone unconscious.

In body-cam footage of the fatal incident, McClain is heard pleading with the officers that, 'I just can't breathe correctly'. He went into cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital and died days later

In body-cam footage of the fatal incident, McClain is heard pleading with the officers that, ‘I just can’t breathe correctly’. He went into cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital and died days later

The Aurora PD later determined that the three officers involved in McClain’s death had acted within acceptable policy and training, with the district attorney overseeing the case declining to level any criminal charges against them.  

However, last week, the police department announced it had removed Officers Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt and Randy Roedema from patrol duty – a move later said to have been made to ‘protect’ those officers. 

Then on Thursday, Gov. Jared Polis appointed a special prosecutor to investigate McClain’s death. 

In the Aurora PD’s internal investigation involving the photographs allegedly mocking the death of McClain, Wilson confirmed the officers involved in that incident have been ‘placed on administrative leave with pay in non-enforcement capacities.’

Wilson said an ‘accelerated investigation’ was completed Monday. Those findings will now escalate to an investigative review board, which will then present back to Wilson for her final determination, ‘which can rise to the level of termination,’ she said.

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