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Colorado AG: investigation reveals police in Aurora are racist

Colorado attorney general said on Wednesday that a civil rights investigation opened amid outrage over Elijah McClain’s death revealed that the Aurora Police Department has a policing model racist.

Attorney General Phil Weiser announced that the investigation revealed that the department has long had a culture in which officers treat people of color – especially blacks – differently from whites. He said the agency also used to use illegal excessive force, frequently aggravated encounters with civilians, and did not properly document police interactions with residents.

“These actions are unacceptable. They hurt the people that the police are responsible for serving,” he said.

In this September 1, 2021 file photo, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser talks about a grand jury investigation into the death of Elijah McClain, a black man who was strangled by police and injected with a strong sedative two years ago at a press conference in Denver.
(AP Photo / David Zalubowski)

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Weiser urged the police department to commit to recommended reforms in officer training, its use of force policies, and in particular stricter standards for police checks and arrests. If he does not comply, he said, his office will seek a court order requiring the department to do so – but he noted that the department had fully cooperated with the investigation.

The investigation, announced in August 2020, was the first of its kind launched under a sweeping police accountability law passed in Colorado amid protests over the murder of George Floyd. It had started several weeks earlier but was only revealed the day McClain’s parents filed a lawsuit against Aurora. The lawsuit alleges that the police treatment of McClain, a 23-year-old massage therapist, was part of a racist policing model that involved assault and violence against blacks.

The Accountability Act prohibited police officers or other employees of government agencies from depriving people of their constitutional rights and gave the Attorney General the power to enforce them. By law, if the Attorney General finds out that an agency has “a pattern or practice” of violating human rights, the Attorney General must inform the agency of the reasons for that belief and give it 60 days to bring forward. modifications. If the agency does not make changes, the attorney general can take legal action to force them.

Weiser’s office is also suing three police officers and two paramedics for manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and assault in McClain’s death. He has called a grand jury to decide whether or not to lay criminal charges after being ordered to reconsider the case by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis amid protests last year.

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The grand jury indicted all five of them.

Police arrested McClain on his way home from the store on August 24, 2019, after a 911 caller reported that a man was wearing a ski mask and waving his hands, which appeared “brutal.” Officers strangled McClain and immobilized him. Paramedics injected him with 500 milligrams of ketamine, an amount appropriate for someone 77 pounds heavier than McClain’s 143-pound frame, according to the indictment. He was then removed from the resuscitation system.

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The Aurora Police Department has also come under fire when officers took four black girls to the ground last year and handcuffed two next to a car that police suspected was stolen but fell apart. turned out not to be.

And an officer was charged with assault in July after he was caught on camera body flogging and suffocation of a black man during an arrest. Another officer was accused of failing to intervene as required by the new Police Accountability Act.