Bord Foren


Elijah McClain’s final words are synonymous with the tragic case that led to 1 officer’s conviction

BRIGHTON, Colo. (AP) — As the death of Elijah McClain became a rallying point at police reform rallies in Colorado and across the county in 2020, the young man’s final words became synonymous with the tragic case.

Prosecutors also played them during a trial for two officers charged in his death that culminated Thursday when jurors convicted one officer of criminally negligent homicide and third-degree assault and acquitted another.

“I can’t breathe,” he said as police pinned him to the ground on a summer night in 2019. “My name is Elijah McClain… “I’m just different! I’m just different. That’s all! That’s all I was doing!”

Here are excerpts from more than three hours of police body camera footage from the encounter with law enforcement and paramedics on Aug. 24, 2019, in the Denver suburb of Aurora. It started after a 911 caller reported that McClain looked “sketchy.” After being pinned down and given the sedative ketamine, he died three days later.

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FILE - A makeshift memorial stands at a site across the street from where Elijah McClain was stopped by Aurora, Colo., Police Department officers before family members hold a news conference, July 3, 2020, in Aurora, Colo. Lawyers are to deliver closing arguments Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023, in the trial of the first two police officers to be prosecuted in the 2019 death of McClain, a Black man who was put in a neck hold and pinned down by officers in the Denver suburb of Aurora before paramedics injected him with a powerful sedative. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)1 of 2 Colorado officers convicted in Elijah McClain’s death after neck hold, ketamine injectionA building at Vermont State University's Castleton Campus in Castleton, Vt., is shown Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. Police were searching for a suspect who shot and killed a retired dean on a nearby rail trail last week. (AP Photo/Lisa Rathke)Vermont police get more than 150 tips after sketch of person of interest released in trail killingFILE - Frederick Hopkins speaks, June 11, 2020, during a hearing in Florence, S.C. Hopkins pleaded guilty Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023 to two counts of murder of five counts of attempted murder in exchange for prosecutors agreeing not to seek the death penalty (Matthew Christian/The Morning News via AP, file)South Carolina man pleads guilty to ambush that killed 2 officers and wounded 5

A third officer and paramedics involved in the death are awaiting trial.



— Officer: Do me a favor. Stop right there. Hey, stop right there. Stop. Stop.

— Elijah McClain: I have a right (crosstalk).

— Officer: Stop. Stop. I have a right to stop you, because you’re being suspicious.

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— Elijah McClain: Well, okay.

— Officer: Turn around. Turn around.

— Elijah McClain: I see your (inaudible).

— Officer: Turn around. Stop. Stop tensing up, dude.

— Elijah McClain: Let go of me.

— Officer: Stop tensing up, bro. Stop tensing up.

— Elijah McClain: Let go of me.

— Officer: Stop tensing up.

— Elijah McClain: Let me go.

— Officer: Stop tensing up.

— Elijah McClain: No, let go of me.

— Elijah McClain: No. I am an introvert!

— Officer: Stop tensing up.

— Elijah McClain: Please respect the boundaries that I am speaking.

— Officer: Stop tensing up.

— Elijah McClain: Stop. Stop!

— Officer: Relax.

— Elijah McClain: I’m going home!

— Officer: Relax, or I’m going to have to change this situation.

— Elijah McClain: Leave me alone!

— Officer: Stop.



— Elijah McClain: You guys started to arrest me and I was stopping my music to listen. Now let go of me.

— Officer: (inaudible) Let’s get over to grass there. Lay you down (inaudible).

— Elijah McClain: I intend to take my power back because I intend to be (inaudible) I get to be (inaudible).

— Officer: (crosstalk) He just grabbed your gun, dude.

— Officer: (crosstalk) Stop, dude! (inaudible). Get us some more units. We’re fighting him.



— Elijah McClain: I can’t breathe!

— Officer 1: Get him on back, he’s getting cuffs.

— Officer 2: (Inaudible) In a bar-hammer.

— Officer 1: Stop!

— Officer 2: Stop!

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— Elijah McClain: I can’t breathe, please stop!



— Elijah McClain: My name is Elijah McClain!

— Officer: We had to use carotid.

— Elijah McClain: That’s all I was doing, I was just going home! (inaudible). I’m an introvert, and I’m different!

— Officer: I heard some snoring.

— Elijah McClain: (Inaudible) I’m just different! I’m just different. That’s all! That’s all I was doing!

— Officer: It was actually Rosenblatt’s. He reached for your gun, dude.

— Elijah McClain: I’m so sorry. I have no gun. I don’t do that stuff. I don’t do any fighting. Why would you (inaudible) me? I don’t do (inaudible). I don’t even kill flies! I don’t eat meat. But I’m not a vegetarian. I don’t judge people or anything. I try to live in secret (crosstalk). And I respect all life.

—Officer: When we showed him up. When we showed up, he was wearing a ski mask.

— Elijah McClain: (crosstalk) Forgive me! All I was trying to do was become better.

— Officer: We started it because he reached for Rosie’s gun.