Elijah McClain - medics charged

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FiremanMike

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This is literally "walking while black" because it's NOT illegal to wear a ski mask OR wave your arms in the air to music OR to be outside doing those things. Also in my opinion it is not particularly suspicious because; does someone with ill intent walk around with a ski mask on and draw attention to themselves, or do they keep the ski mask hidden away and try to draw as little attention as possible until just before they are ready to commit their nefarious deeds?

Let's not forget that a black man had the police called on him by a Karen for walking in the park in broad daylight and it made national news and became a meme. Another black man out for a jog was killed by two vigilantes and the DA is now under arrest and investigation for covering it up. Context matters.
Police were called on someone acting suspicious, they found someone matching the description, so they stopped and tried to talk to him.

The police didn’t invent this call, they were called to investigate a complaint and attempted to do so.
 

DrParasite

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This is literally "walking while black" because it's NOT illegal to wear a ski mask OR wave your arms in the air to music OR to be outside doing those things.
That is literally not, because the cops didn't start this call; they were responding to a 911 complaint. Unless you are saying that cops (or dispatchers) should simply ignore certain requests for service based on the color of a person's skin? because that sounds kind of racist....
Also in my opinion it is not particularly suspicious because; does someone with ill intent walk around with a ski mask on and draw attention to themselves, or do they keep the ski mask hidden away and try to draw as little attention as possible until just before they are ready to commit their nefarious deeds?.
Let be honest... in the last 10 years, how many times have you seen a person walking around with a ski mask on, in an urban area? assuming the answer is less than 10 times a year, it's a once-a-year event... doesn't that make it unusual and worthy of investigating why?
 

GMCmedic

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This is literally "walking while black" because it's NOT illegal to wear a ski mask OR wave your arms in the air to music OR to be outside doing those things. Also in my opinion it is not particularly suspicious because; does someone with ill intent walk around with a ski mask on and draw attention to themselves, or do they keep the ski mask hidden away and try to draw as little attention as possible until just before they are ready to commit their nefarious deeds?

Wearing a ski mask in August is suspicious behavior in any context unless you live in Antartica.
 

DesertMedic66

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This is literally "walking while black" because it's NOT illegal to wear a ski mask OR wave your arms in the air to music OR to be outside doing those things. Also in my opinion it is not particularly suspicious because; does someone with ill intent walk around with a ski mask on and draw attention to themselves, or do they keep the ski mask hidden away and try to draw as little attention as possible until just before they are ready to commit their nefarious deeds?

Let's not forget that a black man had the police called on him by a Karen for walking in the park in broad daylight and it made national news and became a meme. Another black man out for a jog was killed by two vigilantes and the DA is now under arrest and investigation for covering it up. Context matters.
Sure it’s not illegal to be wearing a ski mask around town nor waving your hands around. But if I drive by and see someone doing that, I am going to think it is very odd. Someone decided to call 911 to have the police investigate.

It doesn’t mean he has to have ill intent to be walking around with a mask. It just means it was odd and a citizen felt it was best to have the police department investigate the incident. Think of how often this actually happens. People call because they see an odd vehicle in their neighborhood. There has been a huge push for “if you see something, say something”. I think it is a huge stretch to say in this specific instance it was a “walking while black” that lead up to it.

What if the subject was a known psych patient who went off their meds? You won’t know until the police do their investigation.

You also do not need to be a licensed bank robber to by a ski mask.
 

ffemt8978

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Now that we've gone down that rabbit hole, let's get back on topic please.
 

Kevinf

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He did nothing wrong of note, and was probably highly confused by the fact that he had headphones in that he couldn't remove easily due to his headwear and likely couldn't hear instructions well or at all. "Wellness checks" should not end with a living person becoming a dead person, so I'm sure his family is glad that someone called to have the police make sure he was alright. I think this situation to be less likely to play out in a country that has a properly trained police and medical force, so maybe we should up our own standards instead of saying "well what can you do, these things happen." And I say that based on the PER CAPITA police involvement deaths and higher levels of training and education involved to be a medical first responder in most other developed countries.

If this had happened to YOUR child or SIBLING you would be furious. This death and others need to be looked at long and hard, and believing it doesn't is saying that you're happy with the lack of education required of our police and EMS services.
 
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ffemt8978

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He did nothing wrong of note, and was probably highly confused by the fact that he had headphones in that he couldn't remove easily due to his headwear and likely couldn't hear instructions well or at all. "Wellness checks" should not end with a living person becoming a dead person, so I'm sure his family is glad that someone called to have the police make sure he was alright. I think this situation to be less likely to play out in a country that has a properly trained police and medical force, so maybe we should up our own standards instead of saying "well what can you do, these things happen." And I say that based on the PER CAPITA police involvement deaths and higher levels of training and education involved to be a medical first responder in most other developed countries.

If this had happened to YOUR child or SIBLING you would be furious. This death and others need to be looked at long and hard, and believing it doesn't is saying that you're happy with the lack of education required of our police and EMS services.
Nobody is disagreeing with this, especially the training aspects of it. But should a lack of training, as you put it, form the basis for criminal charges?
 

Kevinf

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What happened to personal responsibility? Police and EMS personnel in this country accept that we are put on the streets given relatively minimal training and if you want to work that job, you have to accept the mistakes you make that could have been avoided with better training. The only way out of that is to demand higher standards, and that won't happen until accountability for needless negative outcomes are routine. Hold some feet to the fire and perhaps fewer will be willing to work the job for the minimal compensation (pay, mental health care, long/poor hours, etc) with minimal education and our vocation can actually see systemic improvements.

As to there being a basis of criminal charges, we have a judicial system that will decide that. When there are criminal charges involved, the officers and medics can be judged by a jury of their peers. I'm sure Elijah would have preferred to be judged by 12 versus carried by 6 but he won't get that chance... the officers and medics will though.
 
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FiremanMike

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Also, it is NOT normal to be wearing a ski mask in August..
What happened to personal responsibility? Police and EMS personnel in this country accept that we are put on the streets given relatively minimal training and if you want to work that job, you have to accept the mistakes you make that could have been avoided with better training. The only way out of that is to demand higher standards, and that won't happen until accountability for needless negative outcomes are routine. Hold some feet to the fire and perhaps fewer will be willing to work the job for the minimal compensation (pay, mental health care, long/poor hours, etc) with minimal education and our vocation can actually see systemic improvements.
Two questions for tou

1. What do you think should have happened when someone called the police to report a suspicious person and the police find a person matching that description.

2. Do you feel medical errors should be treated as criminal charges?
 

Kevinf

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Also, it is NOT normal to be wearing a ski mask in August..

Two questions for tou

1. What do you think should have happened when someone called the police to report a suspicious person and the police find a person matching that description.

2. Do you feel medical errors should be treated as criminal charges?
All of that is up to the oversight for the personnel involved whether that be managerial or judicial. I think that I shouldn't die because I'm neurodivergent and the police can't handle that. Our country's police uses force far too easily, in the video you can see he went hands on immediately when Elijah didn't respond... likely due to approaching him from the flank and Elijah having headphones in. So now our initial encounter is someone grabbing you and yelling at you while you have no idea what's happening. If you have panic attacks or anxiety issues, do you DEMAND that that person handle the situation calmly? Should clinically depressed people, "JUST BE HAPPY"? We know better as trained medical providers don't we? I do DEMAND that the public servants in this scenario be able to manage the situation and make good decisions in a way this individual was not capable of doing. Because it's not HIS responsibility to do so, it's OURS.
 

ffemt8978

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Did we watch the same video? The one I saw showed PD speaking calmly at first trying to explain what was going on. Elijah clearly knew they were there, so I don't see how your comment about his earphones being in and the officers approaching from the flank holds water.
 
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FiremanMike

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All of that is up to the oversight for the personnel involved whether that be managerial or judicial. I think that I shouldn't die because I'm neurodivergent and the police can't handle that. Our country's police uses force far too easily, in the video you can see he went hands on immediately when Elijah didn't respond... likely due to approaching him from the flank and Elijah having headphones in. So now our initial encounter is someone grabbing you and yelling at you while you have no idea what's happening. If you have panic attacks or anxiety issues, do you DEMAND that that person handle the situation calmly? Should clinically depressed people, "JUST BE HAPPY"? We know better as trained medical providers don't we? I do DEMAND that the public servants in this scenario be able to manage the situation and make good decisions in a way this individual was not capable of doing. Because it's not HIS responsibility to do so, it's OURS.
You’re not answering my question. You asserted early on that this was “walking while black”. In your opinion, what do you think should happen when someone calls 911 to report a suspicious person and then a person matching that description is located.

You also haven’t answered my question regarding medical errors. From the report, this was a protocol deviation and an overdose of ketamine. The cardiac arrest was quickly identified and resuscitation was initiated. So I ask again, do you feel protocol deviations and med dosing errors (lumped into the term “medical errors”) should be criminally prosecuted?
 

Kevinf

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ou’re not answering my question. You asserted early on that this was “walking while black”. In your opinion, what do you think should happen when someone calls 911 to report a suspicious person and then a person matching that description is located.

You also haven’t answered my question regarding medical errors. From the report, this was a protocol deviation and an overdose of ketamine. The cardiac arrest was quickly identified and resuscitation was initiated. So I ask again, do you feel protocol deviations and med dosing errors (lumped into the term “medical errors”) should be criminally prosecuted?
Point 1: Perhaps the officer could have simply observed Elijah instead of making direct contact. Perhaps they could have sent a social worker along or instead of an officer. Perhaps nobody should have been dispatched, as case law has set the precedent that police have no duty to respond. Perhaps many things should or should not have happened. I think that perhaps Elijah should not be dead.

Point 2: Depends on the circumstance. We are not privy to everything the investigators will be so anything said here is largely speculation based off incomplete information. I do feel that this person did not need to die for walking down the street listening to music and not harming anyone.

This entire situation is a stain on our country's police and EMS forces, and we should be doing everything we can to earn the public trust back, or things are only going to get worse for us, not better. Anything that happens to the medics or officers involved are the result of the system we've implemented. It's on us to create improvements to the system if that is resulting in no-win situations for first responders.
 
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ffemt8978

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Point 1: Perhaps the officer could have simply observed Elijah instead of making direct contact. Perhaps they could have sent a social worker along or instead of an officer. Perhaps nobody should have been dispatched, as case law has set the precedent that police have no duty to respond. Perhaps many things should or should not have happened. I think that perhaps Elijah should not be dead.

Point 2: Depends on the circumstance. We are not privy to everything the investigators will be so anything said here is largely speculation based off incomplete information. I do feel that this person did not need to die for walking down the street listening to music and not harming anyone.

This entire situation is a stain on our country's police and EMS forces, and we should be doing everything we can to earn the public trust back, or things are only going to get worse for us, not better. Anything that happens to the medics or officers involved are the result of the system we've implemented. It's on us to create improvements to the system if that is resulting in no-win situations for first responders.
Hindsight is great, but how would it be known to anyone involved in taking the call or responding to it that a social worker should have been sent? Keep in mind what you know now about this was *not* known to those involved in it until it was over.

I've never seen a social worker respond to a scene with a response time that wasn't measured in hours, even during business hours. There isn't a bunch of social workers driving around town at all hours of the day and night on the off chance they will be needed on a call.

You're willing to use "speculation and incomplete information" as a basis to push for everyone involved to be criminally charged so that some in our profession will have their feer put to the fire in an effort to improve education and training?

Did he Elijah deserve to die? No way.

Can his case help others and help EMS and law enforcement improve? Absolutely, provided it is done correctly and does not turn into a witch hunt.

Are criminal charges warranted in this case? Unknown, since even you admit we don't have all the information. The fact the district attorney charged them could be because the case warranted it, or it could be due to other factors such as public pressure.
 
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FiremanMike

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Point 1: Perhaps the officer could have simply observed Elijah instead of making direct contact. Perhaps they could have sent a social worker along or instead of an officer. Perhaps nobody should have been dispatched, as case law has set the precedent that police have no duty to respond. Perhaps many things should or should not have happened. I think that perhaps Elijah should not be dead.

Point 2: Depends on the circumstance. We are not privy to everything the investigators will be so anything said here is largely speculation based off incomplete information. I do feel that this person did not need to die for walking down the street listening to music and not harming anyone.

This entire situation is a stain on our country's police and EMS forces, and we should be doing everything we can to earn the public trust back, or things are only going to get worse for us, not better. Anything that happens to the medics or officers involved are the result of the system we've implemented. It's on us to create improvements to the system if that is resulting in no-win situations for first responders.
Point 1, but incorporating your logic of point 2 - I will agree, in a vacuum, that observation prior to contact is a valid tactic. But what we aren’t privy to everything the investigators know, such as standard operating procedures, crime statistics in the area of the contact, and how officers are trained. What may seem reasonable as an approach can become an unreasonable approach once all factors are considered. In this case, officers chose to make contact to investigate the complaint that someone else made. They identified themselves and attempted to speak with Elijah prior to force being applied (contradictory to your earlier statements).

Point 2, It’s interesting to me that you apply the “well hey I wasn’t there” approach to the medics but not the cops. The report is available, the body cam is on YouTube. Read the report and watch the video and educate yourself before you return to this conversation. When you do, answer the very clear question that you continue to evade - should medical professionals be held criminally liable for medical mistakes?

The implications of this case should be terrifying to everyone working in healthcare.
 

Tigger

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Here is all of the bodycam footage.

I really don't know what to make of this. I've watched it a lot, and am not sure how I would approach this if I was called to this. My initial impression was that this was not a patient I'd have wanted to sedate. There wasn't a clear medical reason for how the patient presents and the police stated they had applied a carotid control hold, which would have made me a bit nervous especially considering how long the patient has been restrained in a medically less than desirable position for. It seems that EMS made no attempt to de-escalate the situation at all. Who knows if they would have had any effect, I know personally with similar patients I've had some luck just being a different person and not a cop when talking to them and they chill out a little bit. It also appears that no assessment was attempted prior to medication, which is not cool. If the patient won't cooperate that's one thing, but you have to try to get some sort of baseline. In general I struggle with what the right course is when law enforcement calls us when someone continues to resist arrest. It is inevitable that people will not want to be arrested, does that mean this must be solved pharmacologically? I think the answer to that is probably not.

While by their guideline a med error was made (5mg/kg), at the time my system a few miles away was flat dosing everyone with 500mg (also not good). While the dose is unnecessary, I think if 300mg had been given the same thing would have happened.

We don't really know what happened in the ambulance in terms of how fast the arrest was noted. Really we don't know if he was even awake when he was medicated. Any sedation requires close monitoring, did that happen? If monitoring willfully did not occur in a proper timeline, that would meet the requisites of negligence.

If I was going to sedate this patient, I would have made much more of an effort to control the scene, which this crew didn't do. Minimal direction to the officers, no verbalized plan, no apparent plan ready to care for the patient. That's not criminal, but it's not setting anything up for success.

Of note, in Colorado we can no longer administer Ketamine for agitation.
 

Tigger

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Hindsight is great, but how would it be known to anyone involved in taking the call or responding to it that a social worker should have been sent? Keep in mind what you know now about this was *not* known to those involved in it until it was over.

I've never seen a social worker respond to a scene with a response time that wasn't measured in hours, even during business hours. There isn't a bunch of social workers driving around town at all hours of the day and night on the off chance they will be needed on a call.
Well, we do send caseworkers with police to calls all over Colorado. Sometimes there's even a dedicated paramedic with them. Just because you haven't seen it doesn't mean it is not viable strategy that had potential to change the dynamic of how this all transpired. Aurora doesn't do that, but I bet they're thinking about it now. There's a lot to be said for bringing the right resources at the right time. This call would have gotten a behavioral health response in all the jurisdictions I work for. Maybe they wouldn't have been available but the point is that police are seeing benefit and patrol officers here would want their help.
 
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FiremanMike

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Here is all of the bodycam footage.

I really don't know what to make of this. I've watched it a lot, and am not sure how I would approach this if I was called to this. My initial impression was that this was not a patient I'd have wanted to sedate. There wasn't a clear medical reason for how the patient presents and the police stated they had applied a carotid control hold, which would have made me a bit nervous especially considering how long the patient has been restrained in a medically less than desirable position for. It seems that EMS made no attempt to de-escalate the situation at all. Who knows if they would have had any effect, I know personally with similar patients I've had some luck just being a different person and not a cop when talking to them and they chill out a little bit. It also appears that no assessment was attempted prior to medication, which is not cool. If the patient won't cooperate that's one thing, but you have to try to get some sort of baseline. In general I struggle with what the right course is when law enforcement calls us when someone continues to resist arrest. It is inevitable that people will not want to be arrested, does that mean this must be solved pharmacologically? I think the answer to that is probably not.

While by their guideline a med error was made (5mg/kg), at the time my system a few miles away was flat dosing everyone with 500mg (also not good). While the dose is unnecessary, I think if 300mg had been given the same thing would have happened.

We don't really know what happened in the ambulance in terms of how fast the arrest was noted. Really we don't know if he was even awake when he was medicated. Any sedation requires close monitoring, did that happen? If monitoring willfully did not occur in a proper timeline, that would meet the requisites of negligence.

If I was going to sedate this patient, I would have made much more of an effort to control the scene, which this crew didn't do. Minimal direction to the officers, no verbalized plan, no apparent plan ready to care for the patient. That's not criminal, but it's not setting anything up for success.

Of note, in Colorado we can no longer administer Ketamine for agitation.
I agree that I would have attempted to play the “good medic, bad cop” game to see if we could get him to comply. With that said, I can see how it played out - they show up, cops still pinning him down and said they’ve been fighting him for several minutes, corroborated by the on scene firefighters. He probably should have questioned this, but everything we know about group dynamics and social psychology explain why he didn’t.

Sucks that you lost ketamine for sedation, it’s still a useful tool..
Well, we do send caseworkers with police to calls all over Colorado. Sometimes there's even a dedicated paramedic with them. Just because you haven't seen it doesn't mean it is not viable strategy that had potential to change the dynamic of how this all transpired. Aurora doesn't do that, but I bet they're thinking about it now. There's a lot to be said for bringing the right resources at the right time. This call would have gotten a behavioral health response in all the jurisdictions I work for. Maybe they wouldn't have been available but the point is that police are seeing benefit and patrol officers here would want their help.

What types of runs are they dispatched on? It doesn’t seem to me that they’d be sent on a suspicious person call..
 

DrParasite

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It seems that EMS made no attempt to de-escalate the situation at all. Who knows if they would have had any effect, I know personally with similar patients I've had some luck just being a different person and not a cop when talking to them and they chill out a little bit. It also appears that no assessment was attempted prior to medication, which is not cool. If the patient won't cooperate that's one thing, but you have to try to get some sort of baseline. In general I struggle with what the right course is when law enforcement calls us when someone continues to resist arrest. It is inevitable that people will not want to be arrested, does that mean this must be solved pharmacologically? I think the answer to that is probably not.
Back in the day, PD used to dogpile on a violent/combative person, and once the cuffs went on, they would throw them in the back of a BLS ambulance for a ride to the ER for a mental health eval. Not saying it was the right way to do things, but it is what happened.

if there is a criminal who is resisting arrest, cops will use escalating levels of force to gain compliance and control of a situation.

I am not saying that either of these two situations apply, and I think that an IM chemical sedative is probably safer for all involved.

Currently, we (EMS) lets PD secure a scene before we get involved. if they are fighting with an EDP, it's by definition not a safe scene. similarly, if they are arresting a combative criminal, it's not a safe scene. There is a huge difference between antagonizing someone who the PD are dealing with, taking action to diffuse a situation (using various psychological/chemical tools), and doing nothing. There is also the question of should EMS be telling PD how to deal with a violent subject, when PD are the "experts" in dealing with violent individuals (hence why we send PD in first).

At what point do you draw the line between a violent person and a combative patient, enough where EMS should start telling the cops how to manage the scene?
 

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