NAACP Boulder County is calling on the Boulder Police Department’s top brass to resign following new revelations surrounding the death of Elijah McClain, the 23-year-old Black man who died in 2019 after Aurora police put him in a carotid chokehold and paramedics injected him with ketamine.

A trial is currently underway after state prosecutors charged three Aurora officers and two paramedics with manslaughter, among other charges. Last week, the Boulder Police Department’s deputy chief, Stephen Redfearn, who was a captain in the Aurora Police Department at the time of  McClain’s death, testified as a witness. Redfearn was subpoenaed to testify and is not facing charges.

After McClain was confronted by officers, Redfearn said he updated the code for the dispatch call from “suspicious person” to “assault on an officer,” according to coverage of the trial by CPR News. The change was made without investigating the incident, CPR reported.

Following this testimony, NAACP Boulder County wrote a letter to city officials alleging that such a change to the code “reeks of a cover-up in which Redfearn apparently found it unnecessary and irrelevant to question or investigate the report by the officers, thereby creating a pathway for the supposed justification (‘assault on a police officer’) of the brutal murder of Elijah McClain.” The letter also calls on Police Chief Maris Herold to resign for hiring Redfearn.

In a statement provided to Boulder Reporting Lab, City Manager Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde said the letter from NAACP Boulder County “misrepresents the facts of what occurred.” Regarding the code change, the city manager said it had no bearing on the investigation or outcome.

“This was merely an administrative task to ensure that the dispatch call accurately reflected the information that was given to him at the time by the on-scene sergeants. This is a standard protocol throughout the United States and considered a best practice for data integrity,” Rivera-Vandermyde said.

“The city has complete confidence in Chief Herold and Deputy Chief Redfearn, and I hope that reiterating the facts of the case will help clear up this misrepresentation,” she added.

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