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By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - Federal law enforcement authorities said on Tuesday a civil rights investigation is underway into the death in 2019 of an unarmed Black man in Colorado after police applied a chokehold to him and he was sedated by paramedics.

The federal probe was launched last year into the death of Elijah McClain, 23, who went into cardiac arrest and died days after the encounter in the Denver suburb of Aurora, according to a joint statement from the Justice Department's civil rights division, the FBI and the U.

S. Attorney for Colorado.

The agencies said releasing the existence of an ongoing investigation is done only when it is in "the best interest of the public and public safety.”

“Recent attention on the death of Elijah McClain warrants such disclosure,” the agencies said.

Aurora police did immediately respond to requests for comment.

McClain was approached by three officers from the Aurora, Colorado police department on Aug. 24, 2019 on a report of a suspicious man walking along a street in the suburb.

Police subdued him, even though he was not suspected of committing a crime, and applied a carotid neck hold to him as McClain said repeatedly that he could not breathe, according to audio recordings released by police.

Paramedics then injected him with ketamine. McClain lapsed into a coma and died days later.

A local district attorney declined to file charges against police or the paramedics, citing an inconclusive autopsy.

Governor Jared Polis last week appointed a special prosecutor to review the case, and an internal affairs investigation has been launched into three officers who took photographs of themselves at the scene.

An attorney for the McClain family, Mari Newman, said a civil rights investigation “was long overdue.”

(Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Lincoln Feast.)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Phoenix Police Chief Asks for FBI Review of Fatal Shooting

PHOENIX (AP) — The Phoenix Police chief is asking the FBI to investigate a man's shooting death at the hands of officers.

Chief Jeri Williams announced Tuesday that she is requesting the agency conduct an independent probe to see if 28-year-old James “Jay” Garcia's civil rights were violated during the July 4 shooting.

Authorities say officers were called to a home Saturday afternoon in Phoenix's Maryvale neighborhood about a suspect in an attempted stabbing targeting the victim again. Officers spoke with Garcia, who was sitting in a parked car on the driveway.

Police say officers commanded Garcia to exit the vehicle. He instead allegedly rolled up the window and brandished a handgun. Police say he told an officer to shoot him.

When he refused to lower the weapon, an officer broke a window as a distraction. Two other officers then opened fire.

Garcia was pronounced dead at a hospital.

The shooting drew protests earlier this week as well as national attention. Protesters and the victim's family are calling for the release of all body camera footage.

The identities of the officers involved have not been released.

Williams says she welcomes an outside investigation.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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