Adams County coroner severs ties with Broomfield after questions raised over handling of Elijah McClain death investigation
The Adams County coroner has told Broomfield County that her office will no longer provide services to its neighbor starting Jan. 1, the result of an apparent rift over questions elected officials in Broomfield are raising about the coroner’s handling of the probe into Elijah McClain’s death following his violent arrest by Aurora police last year.
Monica Broncucia-Jordan, who has served as Adams County’s coroner since 2011, wrote in a letter dated Wednesday that she would not renew the county’s contract with Broomfield in 2021 because the city and county’s elected leaders “expressed a clear lack of confidence” in her office during a Broomfield City Council meeting last week.
Broncucia-Jordan wrote she was never contacted by Broomfield regarding any questions it had about her office’s investigation into McClain’s death following his arrest by Aurora police in August 2019, and only learned of those concerns from an “article in the media.”
“I find the lack of communication from Broomfield Council and the discussions at the Council meeting completely unprofessional,” she wrote in the letter, which was obtained by The Denver Post. “Without confidence in the services my Office provides to your community, I have elected not to renew the Broomfield Coroner services (intergovernmental agreement) for the year 2021.”
She doesn’t mention McClain by name in her letter but the discussion by Broomfield council members during a Dec. 10 council meeting regarding a contract renewal centers on the young man’s death, according to a story that appeard in The Broomfield Enterprise last week.
Adams County has provided coroner services for Broomfield since the latter became a county in 2001. Broomfield Mayor Pat Quinn on Thursday said he’s concerned that his county will be without a coroner in just a matter of weeks and hopes to mend fences with Broncucia-Jordan before year’s end.
“We can’t go without a coroner so it causes great concern to Broomfield,” he said in an interview Thursday morning.
The death of the 23-year-old unarmed Black man, who died days after suffering a heart attack after being stopped by Aurora police, being put in a chokehold and administered the sedative ketamine by paramedics, made national headlines and triggered protests demanding racial justice and calling for police reform this past summer.
There are multiple investigations ongoing into the incident, including by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and multiple federal law enforcement agencies.
The Enterprise last week reported that several Broomfield council members expressed concern about how Broncucia-Jordan’s office had handled the aftermath of McClain’s death.
Councilman Deven Shaff asked if there was “a conflict of interest in the case, if there was a meeting between the person who performed the autopsy and the coroner and whether the coroner’s office met with the Aurora Police Department before or during the autopsy.”
“(Shaff) wanted more information on the cause of death, concluded to be undetermined, and why the coroner’s office did not seek a second opinion,” the Enterprise reported.
Several of Shaff’s colleagues on council agreed with him, according to the newspaper, and Councilman Stan Jezierski was quoted as saying “it would be great” to get answers from Broncucia-Jordan.
“Maybe she answers them in a satisfactory manner and we’re OK, but maybe not,” he said.
Broomfield leaders ultimately renewed their contract with Adams County, noting that they wouldn’t have time to find a new coroner before the start of the new year.
Broncucia-Jordan could not immediately be reached Thursday. Quinn, in a letter to Broncucia-Jordan’s office shared with The Post on Thursday morning, apologized to her for the way the council had handled the renewal discussion.
“Unequivocally, you and your office should have been afforded the opportunity to respond to Council’s comments,” the mayor wrote. “Frankly, I was at a loss how to handle Council’s comments so we went on with the unanimous vote and a note to follow up with you. With that stated, there is no feasible way for us to replace your services in two weeks.”
He asked that Broncucia-Jordan help him “turn back the clock” with a special meeting in early January to formally discuss salvaging the agreement.
Quinn told The Post during an interview Thursday that he also wished the coroner had “taken a different approach” to the blowup short of severing ties with Broomfield.
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