A civil rights investigation following the death ofdiscovered that the Aurora Police Department displayed models of racist policing and excessive use of force, the Colorado attorney general said Wednesday.
“These actions are unacceptable,” Attorney General Phil Weiser said. “They hurt the people law enforcement is responsible for protecting, and they destroy community trust.”
Weiser said the investigation found that officers regularly applied more force than necessary without giving residents enough time to respond to orders. He said most of the underlying reasons for these “failures” are “systemic” and “serious” cultural challenges created by several factors, including the department’s policing culture, flawed disciplinary policies and hiring issues.
Investigators analyzed more than three million files, nearly 3,000 police reports, and analyzed internal data from the Aurora Police Department and Aurora Fire and Rescue.
“We will hold Aurora accountable for past habits and practices,” Weiser said.
McClain, a 23-year-old black man, was killed after being strangled and sedated by police in August 2019. McClain was walking home from a convenience store wearing a ski mask. Someone called the police to report a suspicious person and three officers arrived to try to arrest him.
Officers tackled McClain to the ground, putting him in a strangulation, and Aurora Fire Department personnel then injected him with ketamine. McClain suffered a heart attack and was subsequently removed from the resuscitation system.
Earlier this month, a grand juryofficers and paramedics involved in his death on 32 different counts, including manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges.
The investigation, which is the first of its kind in the state, follows the passage of a comprehensive police reform bill that requires the attorney general to notify government agencies if “a model or practice “of violation of the constitutional rights of persons is discovered. Under the law, the accused agency has 60 days to implement changes before the attorney general can then take legal action.
“We are ready to move forward with legal action if necessary to resolve these issues,” Weiser said Wednesday.
Weiser called for cultural and leadership changes within the police and fire department as well as a consent decree with his office. “We see this as a unique opportunity,” Weiser said. “It’s a point in time where we focus with Aurora, taking a step back. How do we want to elevate? How do we want to improve? So it’s a compelling opportunity. our best to get the most out of it. “