AURORA | Aurora police are still conducting interviews to determine exactly what occurred in the moments before a man temporarily lost a pulse after being placed into custody and transported to a local hospital in north Aurora Aug. 24, Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz said Wednesday.
Police restrained a man, now identified as Elijah McClain, after officials said he walked away from officers and ignored their commands shortly after 10:30 p.m. Saturday near the intersection of East Colfax Avenue and Billings Street.
“There’s really not a lot more we can say right now,” Metz said. “It’s still an active investigation and, as in any active investigation, it’s subject to change. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of things we can’t answer.”
Officers were originally dispatched to the 1900 block of Billings Street Saturday night after receiving a call of a “suspicious person” in the area, according to police. Metz said he was not aware of any connection between the caller and McClain.
Multiple responding officers later contacted McClain, who was found walking in the area wearing a ski mask. He then ignored officers’ commands and continued to walk north down the street away from police, according to Officer Anthony Camacho, spokesman for the Aurora Police Department.
Following a “physical struggle,” officers restrained McClain, who is in his mid-20s, Metz said.
“There was a physical struggle,” he said. “When (police) saw (McClain), they told him to stop. He wouldn’t stop. Again, he was wearing a ski mask, it’s 10:30 p.m. at night in a residential area, so obviously that creates some concern.”
Police did not fire any guns or Tasers, or use any batons or pepper spray while restraining McClain, according to Camacho.
Because McClain appeared to be in an “agitated mental state,” police asked Aurora Fire personnel to respond and provide medical treatment. Aurora Fire paramedics then gave McClain an undisclosed medication to subdue his reported anxiety before he was loaded into an ambulance and driven to a nearby hospital.
During the ambulance ride, McClain apparently had a heart attack and momentarily lost a pulse, according to police.
He was revived after Aurora Fire personnel and Falck Rocky Mountain ambulance staff administered CPR and other life-saving measures, Metz said.
McClain is alive, and currently being treated at a north Aurora hospital, Metz said.
Two women who identified themselves as McClain’s cousins, told Fox31 Denver McClain appeared to have been assaulted. The women said McClain remains “unresponsive” and has bruises on his arms, head and face.
Mirroring state protocol in officer-involved shootings, Metz has asked the Denver Police Department and the 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office to assist with the investigation.
“The last thing I want is anyone to think that we’re just going to treat it as a normal type of use-of-force incident,” he said. “It was not a normal use-of-force incident. “
Although police confirmed they have opened a criminal investigation into the incident, no charges have yet been filed, Metz said.
Citing an ongoing investigation, he did not say whether McClain was armed or whether a weapon was found near the scene.
He also declined to specify whether McClain has any criminal history in Aurora or elsewhere. Preliminary records obtained through the Colorado Bureau of Investigation indicate McClain has not been arrested in the state before.
And while the involved officers were wearing body-worn cameras, Metz said local district attorneys have instructed him not to immediately release any footage.
“Both the 17th and the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Offices have been very clear with us: They do not want us releasing any body-worn camera footage until they’ve had a chance to review a case,” he said. “… I think they’re very cautious about doing anything where it looks as if we’re trying the case in public.”
Metz said investigators need to conduct more interviews with the responding police officers, Aurora Fire personnel, Falck staffers and hospital employees before releasing more information.
He didn’t provide a specific timeline regarding when additional information may be released.