Aurora paid police more than $200K for overtime at recent Elijah McClain protests, records show

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AURORA | Aurora police officers assigned to patrol recent protests held for Elijah McClain received more than $200,000 in overtime wages, according to data recently released by the city.

Officers who patrolled a demonstration and violin vigil in front of Aurora city hall on June 27 earned $126,974.09, according calculations obtained through an open records request.

Aurora leaders faced international blowback for the police response during the vigil that began as night fell. Police later said officers deployed pepper spray, smoke canisters and foam bullets to deter a small group of protesters who upended a fence and threw rocks and water bottles at authorities clad in tactical gear. Two people were arrested at the event.

The totals paid to Aurora police do not include wages paid to the gaggle of ancillary sheriff’s deputies who also patrolled the June 27 event.

There were 16 deputies from the Adams County Sheriff’s Office, 25 deputies from the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office and 31 deputies from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office helping Aurora officers at the event, according to representatives from all three agencies. All of those officials are named as John Does, along with 100 unnamed Aurora police officers and Chief Vanessa Wilson, in a class action lawsuit filed in federal court last month alleging that authorities violated protesters’ constitutional rights at the event by using excessive force.

Requests for overtime totals paid to the various sheriff’s deputies assigned to the June 27 event are pending.

Aurora officers received an additional $87,200.90 in overtime for patrolling an additional demonstration in front of a police substation beside the University of Colorado Anschutz medical campus July 3. That event was largely peaceful, although two people were arrested for blocking a roadway in the early morning hours of July 4. Police shot at least five foam bullets at people who were shooting fireworks at officers, a department spokesman confirmed.

City officials have yet to calculate how much overtime was paid to officers who patrolled yet another protest in front of Aurora police headquarters on July 25. Authorities received scrutiny for their lack of response at that event as a smaller group of demonstrators shattered nearly two dozen windows, shot fireworks at officers and caused a small fire inside the municipal court building.

No arrests were reported at the event, although a 23-year-old man suspected of shooting and injuring two people as the protest moved onto Interstate 225 earlier in the day has since been arrested and charged with attempted murder.

The driver of a Jeep Rubicon that careened into the group of protesters moments before the gunfire has yet to face any criminal charges.

Overtime totals from the July 25 event will not be tabulated until Aug. 21, a city records clerk wrote in an email.

The totals paid to police assigned to the recent protests for McClain rival those paid to Aurora police personnel last summer following a series of demonstrations related to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in north Aurora.

The city paid officers a total of $236,373 in overtime wages for covering a trio of different events throughout the summer, though the bulk was paid out to personnel who covered a demonstration where opposing protesters gathered at the facility on Oakland Street on Sept. 21, 2019, according to city documents. Officers earned $187,818 in overtime for that event alone.

The one-day event that produced the second highest overtime totals paid to police in recent years was Global Fest in 2017, when officers earned $19,571 in overtime, according to city data.

However, the costliest reason for overtime in recent years has come from police monitoring suspects while they recuperate from injuries sustained prior to or during an arrest, according to Aurora police data. The city has paid about $100,000 a year to officers assigned to that task each year in the past three years.

Additional demonstrations for McClain are scheduled around the anniversary of his death later this month. An event called “Elijah’s walk home” is set to take place at 6 p.m. Aug. 23 on the block where officers detained the 23-year-old unarmed Black man as he walked home from a local convenience store. McClain died on Aug. 30, 2019, six days after officers placed him in a now-banned control hold, causing him to briefly faint, and paramedics later injected him with ketamine.

Nearly 3,000 people have already pledged to attend the event on Facebook.