The lobby to the Aurora Police Department’s headquarters was shut down shortly before midnight Thursday as a former officer involved in the violent arrest of Elijah McClain appeals his termination over a photo that appeared to mock the 23-year-old’s death.
The public is not allowed at the appeal. An immediate ruling is not expected, and a decision could take weeks, police said.
“It is being closed out of an abundance of caution due to the possibility of protests related to the Aurora Civil Service Commission Hearing taking place Friday,” Aurora police spokeswoman Crystal K. McCoy said. “Former Officer Jason Rosenblatt is appealing his termination.”
Three Aurora police officers were fired in July 2020 over a photo showing officers Erica Marrero, Jaron Jones and Kyle Dittrich reenacting a chokehold like the one used on McClain near a memorial to him. Rosenblatt, who was not in the photo, received the image via text and replied “ha ha,” according to the department.
Dittrich, Marrero and Rosenblatt were fired, and Jones resigned.
Rosenblatt was among the officers who detained McClain in 2019 while the 23-year-old was walking down an Aurora street. The officers placed McClain in a chokehold and paramedics injected him with the heavy sedative ketamine. McClain went into cardiac arrest while being taken to the hospital and he died several days later.
Prosecutors declined to charge anyone involved in McClain’s death, and Gov. Jared Polis last summer appointed Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser to investigate. Weiser announced earlier in January that he planned to launch a grand jury investigation into McClain’s death.