If the Aurora Police Department had hoped to avoid publicity by waiting until the Friday of a holiday weekend to show the photos of three officers re-enacting Elijah McClain's violent treatment by the officers resulting in the 23-year-old's death a few days later, it didn't work: CNN just broke into its programming to announce that all three officers are off the force.
One, Jaron Jones, who's at the center of the photos taken on October 20 by a memorial site for Elijah McClain, had resigned on June 30, prior to his pre-disciplinary hearing.
Two others, Erica Marrero and Kyle Dittrich, were terminated today, July 3, by Interim Chief Vanessa Wilson, after an investigation determined their involvement in the selfie photographs. A third officer, Jason Rosenblatt, who'd been texted the photos and responded "Haha," was also fired. If that name looks familiar, it should: He was one of the officers who'd responded to a complaint last August 24 that ultimately led to the death of Elijah McClain.
Over the last few weeks, the questionable circumstances of McClain's death have finally earned the case national attention, and it just got more.
Wilson was made aware of the selfie incident on June 25, after an uninvolved officer saw the photos and reported them to a supervisor. The officers in the photos were immediately placed on administration leave during an Internal Affairs investigation. After showing the photos to McClain's family and attorney, Wilson held a press conference at 2 p.m. this afternoon in Aurora to announce the results of the investigation and the subsequent firings.
McClain's family and his attorney, Mari Newman, are currently hosting a gathering in Aurora, at the site of his death.
Last August 24, McClain was walking home from a convenience store when officers responding to a 911 call —someone had reported a man dancing while wearing a ski mask, although there was no suggestion he'd committed a crime — ordered him to stop. He told them he was "an introvert" and to "please respect the boundaries that I am speaking." Instead, the officers grabbed McClain and took him to the ground using a carotid control hold, a type of chokehold that restricts blood to the brain. He became briefly unconscious, and when he came to told officers he couldn't breathe.
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A medic told officers that "when the ambulance gets here, we're going to go ahead and give him some ketamine." They did, and McClain subsequently suffered a heart attack; he died in the hospital days later.
Neither the officers in that incident — Nathan Woodyard, Randy Roedema and Rosenblatt — nor the medics were criminally charged after an investigation by District Attorney Dave Thomas last fall. Late last month, Governor Jared Polis ordered Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser to investigate McClain's death; on June 26 the Department of Justice and the FBI revealed that a federal investigation of McClain's death had been under way since last year.
See the documents released by the Aurora Police Department on July 3 here: