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Report Finds That Like Most Police Departments, The One Connected To Elijah McClain’s Death Has A History Of Racial Bias

Colorado’s attorney general has completed a study highlighting a pattern of racist behavior in the police department accused of killing Elijah McClain. The  23-year-old Black man died in 2019 when officers put him in a chokehold and paramedics injected him with a a powerful sedative known as ketamine. Attorney General Phil Weiser, who released the report on Wednesday, said the Aurora Police Department has a history of disproportionately arresting and using force against Black people. 

According to data presented in the report, “Aurora Police have used force against people of color almost 2.5 times more than whites.”

The department also arrested Black people two times more than whites, the study adds. Additionally, the investigation found a pattern of authorities failing to record legally required information when interacting with the community, as well as a history of administering ketamine in violation of the law. 

“We have affirmed what the citizens of Aurora and so many folks already knew: That the Aurora Police Department has operated in a way that is racist and that is particularly racist against Black people,” state representative Leslie Herod said, according to the Daily News. 

Looking at the department’s hiring practices, Weiser said “the officers hired fail to reflect the diversity of the city.” Only 1.1% of Black applicants were offered a job, compared to 4.2% of white candidates who met minimum qualifications, the report states. 

In regards to the use of ketamine, the attorney general said paramedics have shown a pattern of administering the drug “at doses above the maximum allowable dose for the reported weight of the subject.” 

As Blavity previously reported, McClain was was walking home from a convenience store when he was stopped by police. Officers confronted the 23-year-old, saying they were responding to a call for a suspicious person. The young man begged for mercy as he was being brutally arrested by police.

“I can’t breathe. I have my ID right here. My name is Elijah McClain. That’s my house. I was just going home. I’m an introvert. I’m just different. That’s all. I’m so sorry. I have no gun. I don’t do that stuff. I don’t do any fighting. Why are you attacking me?” he said.

The officers who confronted McClain, Randy Roedema, Nathan Woodyard and Jason Rosenblatt, were charged with manslaughter and negligent homicide earlier this month. Charges were also brought against paramedic Jeremy Cooper and fire Lt. Peter Cichuniec. 

According to a report from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, research proves that there is a similar pattern of bias in police behavior across the country. While Black men are about 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white men, Black women are about 1.4 times more likely to be killed by officers than are white women, the PNAS study states

The same research also concludes that 1 in 1,000 black men and boys will be killed by police over the course of a lifetime. Additionally, police use of force has caused 0.2% of all deaths of Black women. 

The data adds that the number of white people killed by police has been increasing in recent years. Still, Black people are far more likely to die in the hands of police.  

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