The Adams County coroner changed Elijah McClain’s cause of death from “indeterminate” to complications from the sedative ketamine after reviewing additional evidence during the grand jury investigation into his death, according to an updated autopsy report released Friday.
McClain was given too large a dose of ketamine for his weight, and he overdosed after being forcibly arrested by Aurora police officers, forensic pathology consultant Stephen Cina wrote in the updated autopsy report.
“I believe Mr. McClain would most likely still be alive without the administration of ketamine,” Cina wrote.
McClain’s manner of death – such statements could be murder, accidental or natural – remains undetermined.
McClain, 23, died in 2019 after three Aurora police officers violently arrested him — though he had committed no crime — and two paramedics injected him with the powerful sedative.
Former Adams County District Attorney Dave Young declined to charge the officers and paramedics in connection with McClain’s death, citing in part the autopsy’s finding that the cause and mode of death were undetermined. But a grand jury statewide in 2021 has indicted the five men on 32 charges — including murder by criminal negligence — after intense investigation during the 2020 police brutality protests.Read:Virginia’s governor restricted rights for trans students. Is it legal?
According to the amended autopsy report, Cina was unable to determine whether the carotid grab of any of the police officers contributed to McClain’s death. A carotid artery is a chokehold that blocks blood flow to the brain.
“I have seen no evidence that police injuries contributed to the death,” Cina wrote.
The amended autopsy report states that since the original autopsy was signed on November 7, 2019, the coroner’s office has reviewed evidence that was unavailable at the time, including body-camera images and witness statements.
“It is worth noting that these materials were requested prior to the publication of the initial autopsy report, but the material has not been provided to us or not in its entirety,” Cina wrote in the amended report, which was completed on July 1. .
The five officers and paramedics — Peter Cichuniec, Jeremy Cooper, Nathan Woodyard, Randy Roedema and Jason Rosenblatt — are scheduled to be arraigned Nov. 4.
Adams County Coroner Monica Broncucia-Jordan released the updated autopsy Friday after a lawsuit filed by Colorado Public Radio and other local news stations. She initially declined a request for the autopsy because it contained information from the grand jury that is not public.Read:Trump suffers setback as appeals panel rejects Cannon ruling
Two judges considered the case and ruled that she could release the information.
“Openness and transparency are at the heart of good governance,” Broncucia-Jordan said in a press release. “I believe in the public’s right to information and want to be transparent about the work done in my office. I also respect the rule of law and want to ensure that nothing is released that violates a court order or potentially jeopardizes prosecution in this case. That’s why it was imperative to have the Denver District Court weigh in.”
This is a story in development that will be updated.