Elijah McClain was a kind, unique, and gentle soul, according to those who knew him. He was a vegetarian and a pacifist who worked as a massage therapist. He played his violin for shelter kittens during his lunch break because he thought the animals were lonely.

One evening two summers ago, McClain was walking home from a convenience store, waving his arms to music he was listening to on his headphones, when Aurora police approached him after getting a call about a "suspicious" man in the area. McClain was wearing a ski/runner's mask, which his sister said he often did because he tended to get cold easily. Police tackled him to the ground and held him in a carotid hold—a restraint technique banned in some cities for its potential danger. He was given a shot of ketamine by paramedics. He had a heart attack on the way to the hospital and died there three days later.

He was a 23-year-old Black man. He was unarmed. He wasn't a suspect in any crime. And his last words to the police were absolutely devastating.

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