Aurora settles in principle with Elijah McClain’s family, more than two years after his death

Sheneen McClain, r m
David Zalubowski/AP
Sheneen McClain, the mother of Elijah McClain, a young man who died after a stop by police in Aurora, Colo., and has spurred investigations of police practices while galvanizing calls for police reforms, is shown in the office of her attorney, Qusair Mohamedbhai, Wednesday, March 3, 2021, in Denver.

The city of Aurora has reached a settlement in principle with the family of Elijah McClain, the 23-year-old who died in 2019 after police officers tried to arrest him and paramedics injected him with a large dose of ketamine as he walked home from a convenience store. 

Attorneys representing McClain’s mother, Sheneen McClain, confirmed the agreement on Monday, stating the settlement in principle resolved all claims raised in her federal civil rights lawsuit against the city. The size of the settlement has not been disclosed.

“The court will now determine allocation of the proceeds between Ms. McClain, the parent who raised Elijah McClain by herself, and Lawayne Mosley, the absent biological father,” the attorneys said.

A status conference to divide the money between the parties is set for mid-November. 

Sheneen McClain filed the civil rights suit in U.S. District Court in Denver in 2020, and the case drew national attention during protests over the killing of George Floyd. The defendants included the city of Aurora and a dozen police officers and fire department employees.

In September, a state grand jury filed 32 criminal charges against three Aurora Police officers and two paramedics for their roles in McClain’s death. The indictment included charges ranging from manslaughter to criminally negligent homicide.

McClain's father said in a statement Tuesday that while nothing will bring back his son, he is hopeful the settlement and the criminal charges against the officers and medics will allow his family and the community to heal.

The McClain case helped inspire Colorado’s new police accountability law, which makes it easier for civilians to sue officers, limits when officers can use force and bans chokeholds.