Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser has released a 112-page report detailing racially biased practices within the Aurora Police Department. Throughout the report, Weiser explained that the APD was 2.5 times more likely to use force on people of color than white residents. Furthermore, nearly 50% of the people that were subject to APD force were Black even though less than 20% of the city's population is Black.
"The report released today demonstrates a consistent pattern of illegal behavior by Aurora Police, which can be witnessed at many levels of the department. Aurora does not create and oversee appropriate expectations for responsible behavior, which leads to the use of excessive force and the violation of the civil rights of its residents," a press release from Weiser's office reads.
"The investigation also found that Aurora Police disproportionately interacted with and arrested non-white community members. For instance, Aurora Police arrested people of color 1.3 times more than whites based on population percentage alone. That multiplier was even greater for Black community members, who were arrested over 2 times more than whites."
This report comes more than two years after Elijah McClain was pronounced dead following an interaction with members of the APD. In August 2019, McClain was stopped by police officers and placed in a "carotid hold" as he struggled to breathe. As the interaction unfolded, McClain was injected with high amounts of ketamine and pronounced dead shortly thereafter. McClain's death has sparked protests across the state and country. Following his death, independent investigators found that there was no legal basis for stopping McClain and the officers involved in his death were indicted on September 1.
Given that ketamine is connected to McClain's death, Weiser's office also looked into the Aurora Fire Department's use of the drug. Unfortunately, the results are frightening.
"Even though Aurora Fire suspended its use of ketamine on Sept. 14, 2020, ketamine administration records from January 2019 to June 2020 show that during that period, Aurora Fire reported administering ketamine 22 times for excited delirium, a life-threatening medical emergency. These records show that, in more than half the incidents, paramedics failed to follow ketamine monitoring protocols and administered ketamine at doses above the maximum allowable dose for the reported weight of the subject," the press release adds.
Moving forward, the Aurora Police Department has 60 days to work with Weiser and his office to create a plan that will address these issues. Also, the city of Aurora must find an independent monitor who will "provide periodic public updates about progress in implementing changes."
“We want Aurora to succeed in these improvements and strongly believe that an agreement provides the best way to do so,” Weiser said.
“Over the coming weeks, we look forward to working with Aurora and other stakeholders to create a consent decree that ensures these requirements are implemented promptly. We are encouraged by the city of Aurora’s interest in working with us to do so.”
Reading about Black trauma can have an impact on your mental health. If you or someone you know need immediate mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor. These additional resources are also available:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
The National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-6264
The Association of Black Psychologists 1-301-449-3082
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America 1-240-485-1001
For more mental health resources, click HERE.