Even coverage of the $15 million Elijah McClain settlement mostly omitted the vegan aspect
Court news dominated mass media during the two weeks preceding Thanksgiving 2021, but key developments in three cases long followed by ANIMALS 24-7 barely cracked even local news lineups.
Coverage of a fourth case, a $15 million settlement between the City of Aurora, Colorado and the family of police violence victim Elijah McClain, mostly omitted mention that McClain was a vegan animal shelter volunteer who died trying to explain his commitment to nonviolence.
The November 19, 2021 acquittal of 18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse for killing two men and wounding a third during an August 24, 2020 protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and the November 24, 2021 conviction of three Georgia white men for murdering black jogger Ahmaud Arbery, 25, on February 23, 2020, understandably stole the headlines.
Highest payout ever in a Colorado police violence case
But as ABC News reported, the $15 million settlement of the McClain family lawsuit against the City of Aurora will be the highest payout in a police violence case in the history of Colorado.
The Aurora City Council quietly approved the $15 million settlement agreement in July 2021, only two-thirds of which will be paid by insurance. The $5 million balance will be paid from the Aurora general fund, meaning directly by taxpayers.
While that may become a political liability for the Aurora council members involved, taking the case to trial likely would have had even more significant political repercussions.
Never accused or even suspected of having committed any crime, McClain was stopped simply for “suspicious behavior,” specifically wearing a ski mask on a warm evening because he suffered from anemia, which interfered with his ability to regulate his body temperature.
“I don’t kill flies. I don’t eat meat.”
“I can’t breathe. I have my I.D. right here. My name is Elijah McClain,” he tried to explain to the three police officers who detained him and two paramedics who injected him with a fatal overdose of the paralytic drug ketamine.
“That’s my house. I was just going home,” McClain tried to explain, as the police vest cameras recorded, only steps from his family’s doorway.
“I’m an introvert. I’m just different, that’s all. I’m so sorry,” McClain pleaded. “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,” McClain continued, to no avail. “I don’t eat meat. I’m a vegetarian. But I don’t judge people. And I respect all life. 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 just can’t breathe correctly.”
Cops & paramedics criminally charged
Colorado Attorney General Philip J. Weiser on September 1, 2021 announced the grand jury indictment of Aurora police officers Randy Roedema and Nathan Woodyard, former Aurora police officer Jason Rosenblatt, and Aurora Fire Rescue paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec on charges of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.
The 32-count grand jury indictment also charged Roedema and Rosenblatt each with one count of assault and one count of committing a crime of violence.
Paramedics Cooper and Cichuniec were indicted on three counts each of assault and six counts each of committing crimes of violence.
(See Charges in police killing of veg animal shelter volunteer Elijah McClain.)
Luke Westerman gets probation & restitution order
Jeffrey Luke Westerman, 40, was on November 18, 2021 sentenced in the Court of Common Pleas for Franklin County, Ohio to serve five years on probation and to make restitution of $1,105,369 to 19 victims of securities fraud.
Westerman, with criminally indicted pit bull advocate Steffen Baldwin, in 2015 co-founded the political action committee “Ohioans Against Breed Discrimination,” and in 2018 was briefly executive director of the Humane Society of El Paso.
Westerman left the El Paso position three days after television station KFOX 14 on January 3, 2019 reported his indictment by an Ohio grand jury on 19 felony counts of securities law violations and theft.
Summarized Estefania Seyffert of CBS-4 in El Paso, “According to prosecutors, Westerman solicited at least 19 Ohioans to invest over $1.09-million into companies owned or controlled by him and used the money for personal expenses.
“Westerman faced three years of prison for each count of unlawful securities practices and 18 months for each count of grand theft. All counts could have run consecutive to each other for a total of 19.5 years in prison.”
Westerman instead accepted a plea bargain in October 2021 that allows him to make restitution in minimum monthly payments.
Added Seyffert, “Westerman’s attorney said Westerman had been making a living by cleaning houses for a small business in Houston, Texas, for $15 an hour.”
If every cent that Westerman earns goes toward making restitution, and he works 40-hour weeks every week of every year and is not required to pay interest to his victims, he might be able to complete the payments at age 75, 35 years now.
Westerman pal Steffen Baldwin still awaiting trial
Steffen Baldwin, meanwhile, is still awaiting trial on 53 counts centering on killing dogs and financial fraud.
Arrested on July 23, 2020 in Acton, California, Baldwin was extradited to Ohio to face 39 felony charges and three misdemeanors. On December 15, 2020, Baldwin was further charged with violating the terms of his bail bond after allegedly testing positive for opiate use.
Since then, some of the charges have been dropped, others have been added, and 11 counts of animal cruelty that were originally filed as misdemeanors were on March 29, 2021 refiled as felonies.
(See Pit bull advocate Steffen Baldwin, facing 39 felonies, flunks drug test.)
Pit bull fatality-related arson suspect in custody
Six months to the day after a pit bull on May 10, 2021 killed one-month-old Carter Settles in New London, Connecticut, after which his father Timothy Settles, 33, was identified by police as a “person of interest” in connection with a fire at a different address in New London later that night, Timothy Settles was on November 10, 2021 reportedly taken into custody without incident and charged with first-degree arson, first-degree reckless endangerment, and first-degree criminal mischief.
Summarized Law & Crime reporter Jerry Lambe, “According to an arrest warrant obtained by the Hartford Courant, Settles allegedly set fire to a house where his girlfriend Jerren M.K. Johnson was staying after the couple argued about who was to blame for the death of their son.
Pit tore baby out of grandma’s arms
The pit bull attack occurred while Johnson was cooking. Settles’ mother Sheila Settles, visiting from New York City, was holding the baby. Timothy Settles was not home.
Sheila Settles told police that the eight-year-old pit bull, raised by the family from puppyhood, suddenly and without warning tore the baby out of her arms and killed him.
“After learning of his baby’s death, Timothy reportedly drove Johnson to her best friend’s house,” Lambe wrote. Sheila Settles remained in the car while Timothy, Johnson, and Johnson’s friend talked. Sheila later told investigators that she heard the three arguing.”
Timothy Settles “reportedly got back in the car with his mother,” Lambe continued, “and drove to a nearby Holiday Inn, stopping in the parking lot where he began drinking alcohol.”
Jailed in lieu of bond
Concerned, Sheila Settles called the police, but before they arrived, he “drove back to the house where he had dropped Johnson,” Lambe continued.
Alarmed that Timothy Settles was violently pounding on the door at about 3:10 a.m., Sheila Settles drove the car back to her home in New York City.
After a brief confrontation with another tenant in the building, Settles allegedly started the fire. The other tenant escaped, with her elderly mother.
“Johnson and her friend were not in the residence,” Lambe said.
Timothy Settles was reportedly jailed in lieu of posting $510,500 bond.
(See Six dog-related fatalities disclosed in 24 hours, but key info withheld.)
Fraud case filed for evasion of judgement in dog mauling
Denver attorney Theodore Hartl on October 22, 2021 filed a fraud case in the U.S. District Court of Denver against Carbondale, Colorado residents Autumn Kent DeSimone and Magnus Grimmett in response to their tactics in evading payment of a $369,948 judgement against them for a mauling inflicted in Feburary 2016 by a German shepherd belonging to their then-contract employee Daniel Rave.
Victim Linda Hassall was reportedly attacked by the German shepherd when she tried to take DeSimone and Grimmett some mis-delivered mail.
Wrote Aspen Times reporter Rick Carroll on November 18, 2021, “The complaint accuses the couple of committing civil fraud by transferring more than $1.2 million from” their company Ajax Technologies, now defunct, “for their own personal use from 2017 through July 2020.”
DeSimone and Grimmett allegedly used Ajax Technologies “as a tool to personally enrich themselves, including using proceeds from a $60,000 SBA disaster-relief loan the company received in May 2020,” Carroll summarized.
The fraud case was actually filed on behalf of Jared Walters, “the court-appointed trustee overseeing the Chapter 7 case of Ajax Technologies, which declared bankruptcy in September 2020,” explained Carroll.
Two co-defendants, finished Carroll, settled with Hassall “for undisclosed terms,” while Rave moved to Florida “and would not be reachable through the litigation. The dog was euthanized after the attack, according to court pleadings.”
ANIMALS 24-7 has monitored the case, but has not previously reported about it.
Jamaka Petzak says
Elijah McClain was a bright light in a place of increasing darkness and I am sure I am not alone in knowing I would have loved him if I could have known him. No amount of money can ever recompense his family and loved ones for the loss of such a caring, kind, thoughtful person. But it can serve as a caution for others that might be similarly inclined as the three that murdered him.
As for the dog killings and maulings, they will continue unabated until we as supposedly intelligent people wake up and stop them by eliminating the threat. As long as we allow them to proliferate, we are all at risk. People that want dogs in their lives can certainly opt for dogs that have not been generationally purose-bred to do just that — maim and kill.
Sharing with gratitude.