The Justice Department announced late Tuesday night they would be looking into the death of Black Aurora, Colorado resident Elijah McClain to determine if a federal civil rights investigation is needed. The 23-year-old's father, LaWayne Mosley, called for all involved to be "held accountable for their actions."
"He's just a bundle of joy. I mean, just my baby. My baby boy," he told CBS News' Jamie Yuccas.
McClain's August 2019 death at the hands of police and the lack of consequences for those involved recently sparked a national outcry following protests over the death of George Floyd who, like McClain, told police "I can't breathe."
McClain had been walking home from a convenience store when he was approached by police after a 911 caller reported a suspicious person in a ski mask. Though the person told 911 they did not believe McClain was a threat, officers detained him — even when McClain himself told them he was unarmed.
Police claimed McClain tried to reach for an officer's gun, but it was not shown on the police body camera.
They placed him in a chokehold as he pleaded with them, "I'm just different, that's all… I don't have a gun, I don't do that stuff." Police called paramedics who then administered ketamine, an anesthetic used, according to Director of Denver's Emergency Medical Response System Dr. Kevin McVaney, in "severe, severe agitated people."
"I don't understand it, I just don't understand it," McClain's father said.
Police reports state that McClain was given 500 milligrams of ketamine because paramedics estimated his weight at 220 pounds.
In reality, McClain weighed 140 pounds. He later went into cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead at the hospital days later.
Criminal defense attorney Randy Zelin is not associated with the case but said there are too many variables to give paramedics the power to use an anesthetic like ketamine.
"You don't have the opportunity to understand and to spend the time to determine the right dosage," he explained.
Interim Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson told CBS News her department will cooperate fully with the federal investigation. She is also looking into three officers who allegedly reenacted what happened to McClain and took pictures of it, but said she will give the officers a chance to respond before releasing her findings.
Meanwhile, LaWayne Mosley said he misses his son every day. His attorney, Mari Newman, noted how many police tactics have deadly consequences.
"In the most obvious cases, officers shoot Black people. But likewise, tasers can be lethal. Chokeholds can be lethal. Ketamine can be lethal," Newman said.
Mosley said his son loved animals and playing the violin. Asked what he misses most about McClain, Mosley said "him not being here, period."
The state of Colorado has also opened an independent investigation into the officers who arrested McClain. They are still employed by the Aurora Police Department.
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