AURORA, Colo. (AP) — A suburban Denver officer has been fired amid an internal investigation into photos showing police near where Elijah McClain was put in a chokehold and later died, a police union said Friday.
The photos in question have been released by the Aurora Police Department.
According to KDVR, the photos show three officers, Kyle Dittrich, Erica Marrero and Jaron Jones, and according to APD they were taken by Dittrich then shared in text messages to other officers. One officer who received the pictures did not respond while another, Officer Jason Rosenblatt, responded “HaHa.”
The Aurora Police Association published the Facebook post shortly before the Police Department is set to provide an update on the investigation into the photographs. Authorities have not yet said what they depict.
The police union’s statement said the fired officer did not participate in taking or distributing the photos. It also said the investigation took nine days, while a standard internal affairs case takes months.
“This investigation is a rush to judgment,” the unsigned statement said.
McClain’s death in August got new attention following nationwide protests over police brutality and racial injustice. Facing increasing pressure, Democratic Gov. Jared Polis last week ordered the state attorney general to reopen the case after prosecutors last year declined to charge the three white officers who confronted McClain.
Word of the photos emerged soon afterward. Aurora police launched an investigation last week after another officer reported the photos that were taken near where the 23-year-old was stopped — a site that’s now a memorial.
An unspecified number of officers were suspended during the investigation, and one resigned this week.
Officers stopped McClain, a massage therapist, after a 911 call on Aug. 24, 2019, reported him as suspicious because he was wearing a ski mask and flailing his arms. Police said they had a right to stop him because he was “being suspicious,” and he begged them repeatedly to let go of him, according to body-camera video.
Police placed him in a chokehold that cuts off blood to the brain, and paramedics administered 500 milligrams of a sedative to calm him down. He suffered cardiac arrest, was later declared brain dead and taken off life support.