Former Aurora police appeal firing over their involvement in photo mocking Elijah McClain’s death

The officers had 10 days to appeal the decision handed down last week.

Jaron Jones has his arm hooked around Kyle Dittrich, who took the photo, while Erica Marrero stands to the left, in a photo taken in October 2019 reenacting a stranglehold near the site of where Elijah McClain died in August 2019. Photo courtesy of the Aurora Police Department's internal affairs report. 

Jaron Jones has his arm hooked around Kyle Dittrich, who took the photo, while Erica Marrero stands to the left, in a photo taken in October 2019 reenacting a stranglehold near the site of where Elijah McClain died in August 2019. Photo courtesy of the Aurora Police Department's internal affairs report. 

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

All three Aurora police officers fired last week for their involvement in a photograph reenacting a stranglehold near the site of where Elijah McClain died last year have appealed their termination with the city.

Aurora city spokesperson Michael Bryant said former Aurora police officers Kyle Dittrich and Erica Marrero on Wednesday filed an appeal with the Civil Service Commission for their firing. And late Thursday, Bryant said former Aurora officer Jason Rosenblatt had filed an appeal as well.

Aurora’s interim police chief Vanessa Wilson announced all three of their firings last week. Dittrich and Marrero were in the photo, while Rosenblatt received the photograph over a text message.

The photo was taken on Oct. 20, 2019, but it was brought to the department’s attention last month.

Bryant said the commission will now schedule a hearing for those appeals, though he said a date for those hearings has not been scheduled. The hearing will review the incident, with Bryant adding a decision on whether to overturn or uphold Wilson’s discipline likely coming at the meeting’s conclusion.

“The question is when that hearing does actually happen,” Bryant said. He said city charter mandates the hearing happen within 15 to 30 days after the appeal is filed, but the meeting is usually extended by one or both sides.

Bryant said the commission is responsible for hiring and providing oversight for sworn police and fire members.

McClain died in August 2019 after an encounter with Aurora police, who placed him in a chokehold while they subdued him. McClain was injected with ketamine as a sedative by EMTs, rendering him unconscious. He died days later. His death has resurfaced as local and national demonstrations continue against police violence and racism.

Bryant said officers who are disciplined have up to ten business days to appeal the decision to the commission.

A third officer in the photo, Jaron Jones, resigned on July 2, a day before Wilson announced the other officer’s firing. Rosenblatt, who was among the cops who stopped McClain last year, was fired for his involvement in the photo incident after he receiving the photo and responding with “haha.”

This story has been updated to reflect a third officer has appealed their firing. 

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