His mom never gave up fighting for him.
Sheneen McClain will always be Elijah McClain's mother and even though he is gone she will always fight for him.
The 23-year-old self-described introvert who loved the violin and worked in massage therapy is the subject of many news headlines this week as Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order directing an investigation into his death after he was detained by police in a Denver suburb of Aurora last August.
The investigation comes after his mom's successful petition calling for attention to the case and justice for her son. He died after was stopped by police for looking suspicious as he was wearing a ski mask (because he was anemic and cold). "He was dehumanized by police," McClain says.
Body cam footage of the incident shows her son sobbing and throwing up as police put him in a choke hold. He was eventually sedated with the drug ketamine and suffered two heart attacks. He died three days later.
The video shows McClain telling the police: "I can't breathe. I have my ID right here. My name is Elijah McClain. That's my house. I was just going home. I'm an introvert. I'm just different. That's all."
He continued: "I'm so sorry. I have no gun. I don't do that stuff. I don't do any fighting. Why are you attacking me? I don't even kill flies! I don't eat meat! But I don't judge people, I don't judge people who do eat meat. Forgive me. All I was trying to do was become better. I will do it. I will do anything. Sacrifice my identity, I'll do it. You all are phenomenal. You are beautiful and I love you. Try to forgive me. I'm a mood Gemini. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. Ow, that really hurt. You are all very strong. Teamwork makes the dream work."
He cried and said: "Oh, I'm sorry I wasn't trying to do that. I just can't breathe correctly."
It's a hard video for any mother to watch and one McClain's mother never should have had to.
"Elijah McClain should be alive today, and we owe it to his family to take this step and elevate the pursuit of justice in his name to a statewide concern," Gov Polis said in a statement.
Millions of people have signed McClain's petition and stand in support of this Black mother and all Black mothers who have lost sons and daughters far too soon to police violence.