Elijah McClain died of ketamine toxicity, newly updated autopsy report says

Elijah McClain is pictured in this undated photo. (Photo provided by Elijah McClain’s family)

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.

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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. .

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