AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– The grand jury investigation into Elijah McClain’s death started in January and wrapped up last week. Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser announced Wednesday morning that a grand jury returned a 32-count indictment against the two Aurora police officers, a former Aurora police officer and two medics with Aurora fire involved in Elijah McClain’s death a little more than two years ago.
McClain’s mother has been waiting and fighting for answers since her son died days after an encounter with police on Aug. 24, 2019. McClain was walking home from a store where he purchased tea for his brother on that day when a passerby called 911 and reported McClain was acting odd. After a confrontation with police, McClain was placed in a chokehold and tackled to the ground. Eventually, he was given ketamine, a sedative, by an Aurora Fire Department paramedic. He died days later, on Aug. 30, 2019.
McClain’s mother learned of the indictment, including manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges during a conference call the night before Weiser made the public announcement Wednesday morning.
“I slept better than I ever have in a long time,” Sheneen McClain said. “I don’t even remember the last time I had such a good rest.”
It’s a hint of relief for a mother who’s been struggling for years.
“It’s been a long race,” she told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann. “It’s been two years since my son was murdered unjustly, and I know it’s not over.”
On this day, Sheneen is feeling a sense of victory. It comes following the announcement that two Aurora police officers, one former Aurora police officer and two paramedics with Aurora Fire are being criminally charged in her son’s death.
“I’m so grateful to Attorney General Phil Weiser and his team, and the grand jury members because they see what I’ve always seen the whole time. My son was innocent,” she said.
But her gratitude isn’t free of pain.
“Honestly, I never would have dreamed I’d be in this position,” Sheneen said tearfully. “Never. I never would’ve dreamed.”
It’s been just a little more than two years since 23-year-old Elijah died following an encounter with police. His death outraged millions, prompting nationwide protests and calls for police reform. All the while, his grieving mother was simply trying to make sense of it all and carry on her son’s legacy.
“I’m always going to be fighting for people to use his name the right way, if not at all,” Sheneen said. “There’s been a lot of opportunists that started selling my son’s last words, his dying words on Amazon. They’re selling his pictures, my pictures. It’s appalling to see how many people are taking murder victims and using it for their own profit.”
As for what she would say to the police officers who stopped Elijah that August night, Sheneen had a short message.
“I wish they had been better humans,” she said, “but they showed just how evil they were when they took out their own insecurities on my son.”