Statement of Attorney General Phil Weiser on the verdict in the trial of the officers charged in the death of Elijah McClain
Oct. 12, 2023 (DENVER) – More than three years ago, the Governor appointed our office as special prosecutors to investigate the death of Elijah McClain after a violent encounter with Aurora police officers and paramedics.
From Day 1, we took this responsibility seriously. Our investigation was thorough, guided by the facts and the law. The statewide grand jury found probable cause to charge the defendants; we then proceeded, as was our solemn duty, to see to it that the officers and paramedics charged with the death of Elijah were held accountable under our system of justice.
Given the number of involved actors and complexity of the case, we knew that prosecuting this case would be difficult. It was nonetheless important that this significant case go to trial so that a jury could hear the facts, review the evidence, and make a judgment. I am proud of the hard work of our dedicated team that put everything they had into this prosecution. They presented the strongest case possible to hold accountable those whose actions resulted in the tragic death of Elijah McClain.
Today, the jury returned a guilty verdict against one of the defendants. I’m deeply grateful for our team’s hard work and dedication on this case. We have two more trials to prosecute, and I know the teams handling those cases will bring their best efforts as well.
Today’s verdict is about accountability; everyone is accountable and equal under the law. And hopefully today’s verdict is another step in the healing process for the Aurora community and the state. I recognize that some people may not agree with the verdict, but we all must respect the jury system, which is a pillar of our democratic republic. The people who served on the jury are our neighbors, regular Coloradans who interrupted their lives for weeks to hear the evidence in the case, to deliberate, and to deliver justice. I thank the members of the jury for their service.
We are here today because Elijah McClain mattered. He was just 23 years old when he died, and he had his whole life ahead of him. His mother, Sheneen McClain, has had to relive that tragic night repeatedly for the last five years. Yet I, and all of us, are inspired by her courage and devotion to her son. Sheneen has been incredibly resilient and determined to not let anyone forget about Elijah. I want to thank Sheneen for her strength, grace, and understanding. Elijah’s memory lives on as a blessing.
One of the ways we can honor Elijah McClain’s memory is to continue our work to improve policing and build trust between law enforcement and the people they are sworn to protect. There are many honorable peace officers who fulfill their oaths every day to serve and to protect. Yet, too many times, we have seen people die or be seriously injured at the hands of law enforcement, including when officers escalate situations that don’t call for the use of force.
We must do all we can to prevent these tragedies. We must work to make policing safer, more effective, and more worthy of the public’s trust. Only then will we truly have justice and public safety.
Chief Communications Officer
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