Aurora police officers on administrative leave after photos taken near site where Elijah McClain was apprehended surface

APD declined to describe the photos.

An Aurora police cruiser outside the Town Center at Aurora mall on Friday, Dec. 27, in Aurora. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

An Aurora police cruiser outside the Town Center at Aurora mall on Friday, Dec. 27, in Aurora. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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Days before a large-scale protest over the weekend of Elijah McClain’s death in Aurora, interim police chief Vanessa Wilson learned of photos depicting officers near the site where officers rendered him unconscious last fall.

The Aurora Police Department has yet to release details of the photographs, however an internal investigation was launched and the officers involved were placed on paid administrative leave, Wilson said.

According to Brian Maass of CBS 4, who first reported this story, the officers in the photos were reenacting the chokehold police used to subdue McClain.

Officers apprehended McClain after someone had reported a “sketchy” man flailing his arms and wearing a ski mask, which he often wore for health reasons. After being injected with ketamine, which law enforcement agencies use as a sedative, McClain suffered two heart attacks and died.

The photos were disseminated among police officers, Maass reported.

Following Maass’ report, the Aurora Police Department acknowledged the internal affairs investigation. Wilson said the department will publicly release the results of the investigation “upon its conclusion. This will include reports, photographic evidence obtained, officer’s names, and my final determination which can rise to the level of termination.”

On Monday afternoon, Aurora mayor Mike Coffman called a special meeting of city council for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday “to hear from and ask questions of the Aurora Police Department about the weekend protests at the Aurora Municipal Center over the death of Elijah McClain.”

The meeting will be conducted virtually and will be available for viewing on AuroraTV.org (click on “Watch Live”), Comcast Channels 8/880 in Aurora. Tune in by dialing 1-877-820-7831, passcode 254610#.

Last week, Gov. Jared Polis announced he was appointing Attorney General Phil Weiser to investigate Aurora’s handling of McClain’s death. The district attorney in the case declined to charge the officers, and a review board later cleared them of any wrongdoing. The officers involved were reshuffled within the department for safety reasons, APD said.

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