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‘Wanted to cheer everyone up’: 3 Colorado cops sacked after selfie mocking black chokehold victim

‘Wanted to cheer everyone up’: 3 Colorado cops sacked after selfie mocking black chokehold victim
Three officers were fired by the Aurora Police Department in Colorado after taking smiling selfies mimicking a chokehold at a memorial for an unarmed young black man who died following an encounter with police.

Officers Erica Marrero, Kyle Dittrich and Jason Rosenblatt were fired from the police force following an internal investigation. Their follow officer, Jaron Jones, was about to be fired too but chose to resign during the probe.

Interim Police Chief Vanessa Wilson said that, although their actions are not a criminal offense, they are a "crime against humanity and decency."

It shows a lack of morals, values, and integrity and a judgment that I can no longer trust to allow them to wear this badge.

The photos were taken in October of last year, but Wilson was made aware of them just last week.

The officers re-enacted a chokehold at a memorial site dedicated to 23-year-old black man Elijah McClain, who had died two months prior. Police were called in response to a report of a "suspicious person" in the area. They approached McClain as he was walking to a convenience store. He was unarmed and did not commit any crimes. McClain, a massage therapist, was wearing a mask, which was something that his family said he did often when it was cold because he was anemic.

The encounter escalated quickly as the officers yelled "Stop!" before throwing McClain on the ground and using a chokehold on him. The man lost consciousness, after which the officers called paramedics, who administered a sedative to McClain. He was hospitalized and pronounced dead three days later.

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The officers involved in the incident were cleared of any wrongdoing in February, but authorities may open a new investigation into the case, local media reported.

Of the officers fired over to the photos they took at McClain's memorial, only Rosenblatt was directly involved in the encounter with McClain. However, according to FOX31, Marrero and Dittrich arrived at the scene shortly after McClain was subdued.

They later helped to drive Nathan Woodyard, one of the officers involved in the struggle with McClain, to his home.

After Marrero, Dittrich and Jones took the photos, they sent them to a group chat with Woodyard, who did not respond, while Rosenblatt responded "HaHa."

During the investigation, Dittrich said that he wanted to "cheer everyone up" and show "solidarity" with Woodyard. He acknowledged that the photo was "sort of as homage to the carotid control hold," and admitted that it was done in "incredibly poor taste." Marrero explained that the officers were "going through really tough times" when they took the photos, and "never meant to harm anyone in the process."

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The US has seen a surge in anti-police sentiment since an unarmed black man, George Floyd, died while being placed in a knee-to-neck hold by a white police officer in May.

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