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Elijah McClain's family on new indictments: "We can hold them accountable"

Grand jury returns charges in Elijah McClain death
Grand jury returns charges in Elijah McClain ... 05:04

Three Aurora, Colorado police officers and two paramedics were indicted Wednesday on manslaughter and other charges in the death of 23-year-old Elijah McClain. The indictment comes two years after McClain was put into a chokehold and injected with a powerful sedative.

Last year, nationwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality brought increased attention to McClain's death.

"CBS This Morning" national correspondent Jericka Duncan spoke with McClain's parents, who never imagined losing their son at the hands of police and paramedics.

McClain's pleas for protection and understanding were ignored by the officers who arrested him after they received calls about a suspicious person. He was walking home from a convenience store.

"I can't breathe," he was heard saying on police video. "I'm just different, I'm just different."

His mother, Sheneen McClain, said her son was a kind soul who loved to play the violin. "When he was saying, 'I'm just different,' I did everything in my power as a single mom to make sure he wasn't a statistic. He really was innocent. He didn't do anything wrong."

Since his death two years ago, she's been praying for justice.

On Wednesday, Colorado's attorney general Phil Weiser announced a 32-count indictment against three police officers (two current, one former) and two paramedics involved in McClain's death.

According to the indictment, McClain was "rendered unconscious, suffered hypoxia [lack of oxygen] and his physical and mental condition were impaired" after officers placed him in several carotid holds.

When paramedics arrived, they injected him with ketamine, a drug used to sedate combative people. But the dosage they administered was meant for someone more than 70 pounds heavier.

McClain was rushed to the hospital, later declared brain dead, and taken off life support.

At first, the district attorney declined to file charges in 2019, citing inconclusive evidence.

But as McClain's death gained nationwide attention after the death of George Floyd, Colorado's governor, in June of 2020, designated the attorney general to investigate McClain's death.

"We recognize that this case will be difficult to prosecute; these types of cases always are," Weiser said.

Despite no evidence showing it, police claimed McClain reached for one of the officers' guns. The police union said in a statement, "Our officers did nothing wrong," and claimed the charges were part of what it called "the hysterical overreaction to this case."

His parents disagree.

Duncan asked Elijah's father, LaWayne Mosley, "What does justice look like to you?"

"We can't bring my son back, but we can hold them accountable," Mosley replied.

Duncan asked Sheneen McClain, "If those three officers and those two paramedics are watching right now, what do you want them to know?

"That they don't deserve the uniforms that they were wearing that night," she replied. "They don't deserve to be in the field that they're in because they disrespect life."

The Aurora, Colorado, city manager said in a statement that the employees have been suspended without pay pending the results of the case.

One of the officers was fired last year after he texted photos mimicking the chokehold used that day.

The firefighters' union representing the two paramedics said it is standing by the legal process.

Duncan reports that it is rare for officers to be charged, but even more rare for parademics to be charged.

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