After evaluating fresh evidence during the grand jury inquiry into Elijah McClain’s death, the Adams County Coroner’s Office revised the cause of death from “undetermined” to complications from the sedative ketamine, according to an updated autopsy report issued on Friday.
In the revised postmortem report, forensic pathologist Stephen Cina concluded that Aurora police officers administered a lethal quantity of ketamine to McClain, who died from an overdose. However, if it weren’t for the ketamine, “I believe that Mr. McClain would most certainly be alive,” Cina wrote.
McClain’s cause of death is still up in the air; it might have been ruled a homicide, an accident, or a natural cause. McClain, 23, died in 2019 after being violently apprehended by police in Aurora, Colorado, despite the fact that he had committed no crime, and then having a powerful sedative put into him by two paramedics.
Considering that the autopsy found that McClain’s cause and manner of death were indeterminate, former Adams County District Attorney Dave Young decided not to press charges against the cops and paramedics involved. However, after the five men came under close scrutiny during the police brutality protests in 2020, a statewide grand jury indicted them on 32 crimes the following year, including criminally negligent homicide.
The carotid hold used on McClain by one of the police officers was not a factor in his death, according to the revised autopsy report written by Cina. A carotid hold is a form of strangulation that cuts off oxygen to the brain. No proof that police injuries played a role in the death, Cina wrote.
The coroner’s office evaluated new evidence, such as body camera footage and witness accounts, since the first autopsy was signed on November 7, 2019. In the finished version of the updated report from July 1, Cina said that “it is worth mentioning that these materials had been requested prior to release of the initial autopsy report but the material was either not delivered to us or not provided to us in their whole.”
Peter Cichuniec, Jeremy Cooper, Nathan Woodyard, Randy Roedema, and Jason Rosenblatt, five police officers and paramedics, will be arraigned on November 4. In response to a lawsuit filed by Colorado Public Radio and other local news outlets, Adams County Coroner Monica Broncucia-Jordan revealed the revised autopsy on Friday.
She initially said no to releasing the results of the autopsy because they contained grand jury information that was sealed from the public. Two judges heard her case and decided she may share the data. ‘Openness and openness are at the heart of good government,’ Broncucia-Jordan stated in a press release.
I value openness and honesty in communicating the results of official business in my office because I respect the public’s right to know. Likewise, I have a strong aversion to flouting the law and would like to see to it that no information is made public that could put the current proceedings at risk. This is why the Denver District Court’s opinion was so necessary.