Three officers were fired Friday over photos showing police reenacting the chokehold used on Elijah McClain.
McCain was the 23-year-old Black man who died last year after police stopped him on the street in a Denver suburb.
One of the officers fired is Jason Rosenblatt. He helped stop McClain in August for wearing a ski mask and “being suspicious.”
Police put McClain in a chokehold while paramedics injected him with a sedative. McClain suffered cardiac arrest before later being taken off life support.
Aurora Interim Police Chief Vanessa Wilson said that officers sent the photos to Rosenblatt and others two months after McClain died to “cheer up a friend.”
Rosenblatt responded with a text saying, “Haha.”
Officer Nathan Woodyard also got the photos but was not disciplined because he didn’t respond.
Four officers were involved in the incident. Officer Jaron Jones resigned earlier this week.
Is Employment Termination Enough?
Wilson announced Friday that the remaining officers involved — Erica Marrero, Kyle Dittrich and Jason Rosenblatt — have all been fired.
“We’re ashamed, we’re sickened and we’re angry,” Wilson said in a news conference about the now-former officers’ behavior.
“While the allegations of this internal affairs case are not criminal, it is a crime against humanity and decency,” she said, calling their actions “reprehensible.”
“It shows a lack of morals, values and integrity and a judgment that I can no longer trust to allow them to wear this badge,” she said.
Wilson also revealed the photos, which were taken on Oct. 20, 2019, publicly for the first time. The officers are smiling at the site of the tragedy.
One of them shows them recreates the carotid control hold that other officers put on McClain prior to his death.
“All the officers involved should be fired, and they should be fired and not able to be hired in any other department where they will continue to kill,” Mari Newman, an attorney representing the McClain family, said at a press conference after the news of the firings.
Newman said she expected a civil suit would be filed.
“We’ve got a police department and a police association that is rotten to the core,” she added.
Another Senseless Tragedy
McClain was walking home in Aurora after buying iced tea at a local corner store on Aug. 24, 2019, according to his family attorney.
The Aurora Police Association called the internal investigation a “rush to judgement.”
“The appearance of impropriety is obvious. It is extremely concerning to the Aurora Police Association that Interim Chief Wilson is willing to disregard the rights of our members and due process that is afforded to all police employees,” the union said in a statement.
The union thinks Wilson is “unfit for the position that she currently holds. They are calling for her to be dropped as a candidate for Chief of the Aurora Police Department.”