The Adams County coroner in Colorado released Elijah McClain’s modified autopsy report Friday after several news organizations sued for its release.
The cause of death, previously listed as “undetermined,” was listed in the amended report as “complications of coercive coercion administration of ketamine.” The manner of death remained listed as “indeterminate” as it was in the first report.
“The research suggests that [McClain] received an intramuscular dose of ketamine that was higher than recommended for his weight,” said the report of Monica Broncucia-Jordan, chief medical officer of Adams County Monica. Minutes after receiving a shot of ketamine. When he was put on a stretcher, I believed. that he exhibited agonal breathing and threatened respiratory arrest.”
She continued: “Put simply, this dose of ketamine was too much for this person and it resulted in an overdose, although his blood ketamine level was consistent with a ‘therapeutic’ blood concentration. I believe Mr. McClain is most likely alive, but before the administration of ketamine. “
McClain, a 23-year-old black massage therapist, died after meeting police in August 2019 while walking home from a grocery store.
In the report, Broncucia-Jordan acknowledged that another forensic pathologist would have considered the manner of death a “manslaughter or accident” in this case.
The release comes before the arraignment of five former Aurora police officers and paramedics in McClain’s 2019 death.
A passerby had called 911 to report that McClain was behaving “often” because he was wearing a ski mask on a warm night. The McClain family’s attorney attributed this to the fact that McClain was anemic, which made him feel cold more easily.
Aurora police officers arrived on the scene and confronted McClain. According to the Justice Department, an officer can be heard saying on body camera images that they put him in a carotid stranglehold, which narrows the carotid artery and cuts off blood to the brain. On CCTV footage from police, McClain can be heard saying, “I can’t breathe.”
Paramedics arrived and gave McClain an “excessive” dose of ketamine, according to McCain’s attorney, and McClain went into cardiac arrest in an ambulance shortly after, officials said. McClain was pronounced dead three days later.
Former Aurora police officers Jason Rosenblatt, Nathan Woodyard and Randy Roedema, as well as paramedics Peter Cichuniec and Jeremy Cooper, were charged with 32 criminal charges, including manslaughter, culpable homicide and assault.
Their arraignment is scheduled for November.
Broncucia-Jordan said the report was modified based on confidential information about the grand jury.
CPR News filed a lawsuit against the Adams County coroner on Sept. 1, pleading for release of the autopsy report. Several other local news organizations joined the effort after requests for open records to obtain the report were rejected.