Polis tweaks executive order, widens scope on AG’s Elijah McClain investigation

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AURORA | Gov. Jared Polis this week amended an edict he issued earlier this summer tabbing Attorney General Phil Weiser as special prosecutor to further investigate the death of Elijah McClain.

The change announced late in the day Nov. 10 slightly widened the scope of Weiser’s investigation by broadening the range of whom he may pursue criminal charges against in a potential case.

In Polis’ original order released in June, he directed Weiser to prosecute if necessary “any potential criminal activity by law enforcement officers or any other individuals that caused the death of Elijah McClain in Aurora,” the document reads.

The new language asks Weiser to, “if deemed necessary, prosecute any persons for such offenses” related to McClain’s death.

The new amendment did not alter Weiser’s ability to present a potential case to a state grand jury.

In a statement, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office declined to specify exactly what prompted the new verbiage.

“The Governor’s amended executive order appointing the attorney general as a special prosecutor in the Elijah McClain case provides clarification of the Department of Law’s authority to investigate and prosecute any crimes related to this case,” Weiser spokesman Lawrence Pacheco wrote in an email. “The investigation continues and it will be thorough, guided by the facts, and work to build public trust in the criminal justice system.”

A spokesman for Polis’ office deferred to Pacheco.

McClain’s death spawned international protests earlier this summer, some nine months after the 23-year-old massage therapist was stopped in north Aurora the evening of Aug. 24, 2019. He was placed in a now-banned control hold that briefly made him faint, injected with an increasingly controversial sedative and went into cardiac arrest a short time later. He was taken off of life support at a local hospital six days later.

While no criminal charges have been filed against any of the officers or paramedics who interacted with McClain, attorneys representing his parents and estate have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city and several first responders seeking unspecified damages.

A bevy of separate investigations ordered by the Department of Justice and the City of Aurora into McClain’s death remain ongoing.

City Manager Jim Twombly is tentatively slated to brief a panel of city council members on the status of several of the city’s investigations at a public meeting next week.