AURORA, Colo. — Community members gathered at the Restoration Christian Fellowship Church on Tuesday for the first of several meetings to push for policy change after the police-custody death of Elijah McClain.
“I can’t sit back,” said Sheena McClain, Elijah’s mother. “Other people are out here shouting my son’s name. I got to shout his name too.”
She is still demanding more information and accountability in her son’s death, and she also wants to see changes to police practices.
Aurora city councilwoman Nicole Johnston and the NAACP Aurora Chapter organized the Tuesday meeting in response to community calls for such changes in the wake of of McClain’s death.
“I want to do more than just talking and listening. I want to have some action that comes out of this. Some next steps,” said Nicole Johnston, Aurora Ward II councilwoman and mayor pro tem.
Johnston said she is looking to other major cities on how to proceed. One idea is to create an independent oversight review system. She said this would be different from the existing review board tasked with reviewing matters involving police discipline.
The new group would reviews incidents like police-involved shootings, for example, and would consist of community members and/or local experts.
The Aurora Police was not at Tuesday night’s meeting. A spokesman for the department said they wanted to give community member to first meet with advocates and city leaders. They are open to attending meetings in the future.
Elijah McClain died after an incident with officers on Aug. 24. He encountered officers near Billings Street and East Colfax Avenue after someone reported a suspicious man in a ski mask running in the area.
Aurora police said a “struggle ensued,” and they later called emergency medical responders to transport McClain to the hospital. They injected him with the sedative ketamine to reduce his agitation.
McClain later died.
District Attorney Dave Young announced last month state criminal charges will not be filed against officers involved in an altercation.
McClain’s mother, meanwhile, said she plans to attend future meetings in support of efforts to promote new policies.
“I love the fact that people are coming to gather to create change in the world,” McClain said.