The Aurora Police Department fired three white police officers on Friday over a photo re-enacting the chokehold used on Elijah McClain. One of the officers was on the scene when McClain was arrested last year. The 23-year-old Black man died of cardiac arrest in Colorado following the arrest. The fourth officer, who mimicked the chokehold, Jason Jones, had resigned earlier this week.
The decision by Aurora Police Department to fire all the three officers in the disturbing photograph comes amid nationwide protests demanding the end of police brutality and racism against the blacks. Several police departments across the United States have gone for police reforms over the past few weeks, with President Donald Trump even signing an executive order to ban chokeholds and neck restraints.
Cops Held Accountable
On Friday, Aurora Police Department Interim Police Chief Vanessa Wilson showed the two photographs at a press conference that led to the termination of the three officers. One of the photos shows three officers smiling, with one appearing to put another officer in a chokehold. The photograph, which Wilson said was taken at the site of McClain's memorial, resembles the exact way a chokehold was used on him before he died.
The three officers identified in the photo are Jones, Erica Marrero and Kyle Dittrich. The second photograph shows Jones re-enacting a carotid hold on Dittrich, while everyone is seen smiling. Wilson described the photographs as "disturbing" and shows a "lack of moral". "To even think about doing such a thing, it's beyond comprehension, and it's 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," Wilson said.
Wilson also said that the photos were sent to all the officers including Jason Rosenblatt, who was one of the white officers who stopped McClain. Rosenblatt had replied "HaHa" after receiving the photos. Besides, Marrero and Dittrick, Rosenblatt was also fired on Friday. Another officer, who was sent the photo but instantly deleted them, wasn't fired.
Mark of Respect
Although the photographs were taken last fall, Wilson said that she was made aware of them only on June 25 this year after an officer complained about them. Following this, an investigation was launched leading to the termination of the officers.
McClain was killed last August in police custody after being confronted by officers. The incident took place on August 24 after the Aurora Police Department received a call on 911 about a suspicious man "wearing a ski mask". Officers reached the scene and tried to confront McClain, who is said to have been "actively resisting" and grab one of the guns. He was then wrestled to the ground by the officers using a chokehold and later put in carotid hold applying pressure on his neck, which stopped his blood flow to the brain.
He fell unconscious and was later taken to the hospital where he was declared brain dead three days later and was removed from life support on August 30. Two other officers who were on the scene, including the one who put McClain in a chokehold continued to serve the police department. Last year, prosecutors declined to charge the three police officers who tried to detain McClain.
However, after public outcry, the governor of Colorado, Jared Polis, said that the case would be reopened. McClain's death became a rallying cry against police brutality and racism in the United States. The recent deaths of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks in the hands of police saw nationwide protests demanding the end of police brutality, which has finally seen many states going for reforms within the police department and holding cops accountable for misconduct.