Indiana Daily Student

Black Voices: Will the police, paramedics be held accountable for the death of Elijah McClain?

A Colorado grand jury indicted the paramedics and police officers involved in the death of Elijah McClain in 2019, but this decision doesn’t appear to be something worth celebrating. This indictment doesn’t mean police brutality will be ending anytime soon.

Elijah McClain was a Black man who died in Aurora, Colorado, in 2019 after being placed in a chokehold and injected with 500 milligrams of ketamine, a strong sedative, according to ABC News. The dose of ketamine was unnecessary because McClain was already in handcuffs. 

Black people are still murdered by police, so a guilty verdict or indictment can seemingly mean nothing. People should start to visualize a world where police brutality doesn’t exist. 

Before his death, McClain went to a convenience store close to his home, where he bought soft drinks. McClain was wearing a ski mask because of his anemia, which made him feel cold easily. The police had been called about a person wearing a ski mask and waving his arms.

McClain had not been suspected of a crime. 

In a video posted by USA Today from the body camera footage of McClain’s last moments, you can hear him yelling multiple times “I can’t breathe” as they proceeded to hold him in a chokehold, later injecting him with ketamine leading to his untimely death. 

“I can’t breathe” has been heard from Black people pleading for their lives as they died at the hands of police. This statement was recognized nationally as a protest against police brutality after the death of Eric Garner. 

What makes Garner’s death more disturbing is that chokeholds had already been banned by the New York City Police Department. in 1993, long before it was used against him. The officer’s action seemed to be deliberate — brutality toward a Black man — as it was a clear violation of NYPD policy. Garner’s killer was fired from NYPD but was not charged in his death, indicating that accountability and justice did not happen. 

More recently, “I can’t breathe” can be heard from videos taken of George Floyd moments before his death. According to the Guardian, Floyd said “I can’t breathe” 20 times while being put in a chokehold by a Minneapolis police officer. Floyd’s killer was sent to prison. 

Just after the verdict of Geroge Floyd’s murderer was delivered — guilty on charges — it appeared to be a victory for many within the Black community. Justice had finally been served. It seemed as if the Black community could finally breathe.

However, just hours after the verdict, reality set in. A 16-year-old Black girl named Ma’Khia Bryant was murdered by a Columbus, Ohio police officer. 

This shows signs of a seemingly never-ending cycle of police violence, almost as if it is not preventable. 

Even if the people responsible for Elijah McClain’s death go to prison, police brutality will still exist. This is the reality for many Black and brown people. 

This reality leaves people helpless and wondering, “What should we do?”

In a perfect world, Black and brown people will no longer be murdered by police. The word “police” will serve no purpose and have no meaning in this world. 

No one will be home at the edge of their seats waiting on a “not guilty” verdict and justice and accountability would serve their purpose.

In this world, Elijah McClain would have never lost his life.

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