Aurora temporarily bans paramedics from using ketamine as the city reviews McClain’s death

The vote in city council was unanimous.

Protesters in Aurora on July 25, 2020, demand justice in the death of Elijah McClain

On a rainy Saturday night, protesters demanded justice in the death of Elijah McClain in Aurora.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

The Aurora City Council on Monday unanimously voted to temporarily ban city paramedics from using ketamine, a sedative used on Elijah McClain by paramedics in August 2019 when he was detained by Aurora police.

The vote directs Aurora Fire Rescue and city contracted paramedics to stop using the sedative until the city’s independent investigation of the events leading up to McClain’s death is complete. Paramedics would be allowed to use the sedative 30 days after the final report for the investigation is submitted.

The resolution was introduced by council member Curtis Gardner. He said during Monday’s meeting that the city should wait to see what the investigation finds before its used again.

“I think what’s really important here … (is) to make sure we are giving the right tools to our firefighters, to our paramedics, to use in their job and clear direction on what tools we want them using,” Gardner said. “I think it’s really important that as we go through this review, we take those results and we make a more permanent decision.”

The three-person team conducting the city’s investigation includes Dr. Melissa Costello, who works as an emergency-medicine doctor in southern Alabama.

McClain’s death has sparked demonstrations and calls for police accountability.

The council voted last month to ban police officers from using carotid holds, which was used on McClain last year. Unlike Monday’s decision, however, the chokehold ban was written into the city’s law.

There are five total investigations at the local, state and federal level connected to McClain’s death, which are looking into Aurora police and their actions on the night he died and their patterns of practice. Two investigations are being conducted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment into ketamine use by EMTs and paramedics.

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