Aurora Bans Use of Ketamine While Elijah McClain Investigation Continues

Aurora City Council voted on Monday, September 14, to temporarily ban the city’s emergency responders from using ketamine until the investigation into Elijah McClain’s death is completed.

The unanimous vote comes after the city faced public outrage over the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who died last August in police custody after being injected with the sedative.

Police reports state that paramedics gave McClain 500 milligrams of ketamine at the scene. The paramedics estimated McClain weighed 220 pounds when, in fact, he weighed approximately 140 pounds. After being administered the 500 mg dose, McClain went into cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital and died days later.

Aside from increasing scrutiny from the public to investigate McClain’s death, the Colorado Society of Anesthesiologists (CSA) also pressed for the ban of ketamine.  The CSA pushed for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to suspend its ketamine waiver program until the department completed its review on the drug’s usage for sedation.

The Justice for Elijah movement celebrated this victory. However, they are still calling for action and requesting people to contact the Department of Health with concerns about the improper use of ketamine to deescalate situations.

None of the officers involved have been charged in McClain’s death. One of the officers involved in the arrest was fired in July after a photo came out of him and two other officers reenacting the chokehold on McClain.