A jury on Thursday reached a split decision in the death of Elijah McClain, an unarmed Black pedestrian who was pumped with powerful sedatives by Colorado paramedics after being racially profiled and arrested by police in 2019.
NBC News reported:
The jury convicted Aurora Police Officer Randy Roedema of criminally negligent homicide and third-degree assault.
Former Aurora officer Jason Rosenblatt was acquitted.
Roedema has been suspended without pay while Rosenblatt was fired in 2020 after responding “ha ha” to a picture texted to him by other officers, one of whom appeared to be administering a chokehold near a memorial for McClain.
Roedema and Rosenblatt both pleaded not guilty to charges of reckless manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and assault causing serious bodily injury to McCain.
They are the first of five to see a courtroom for their indictments in connection with McClain’s death.
Two paramedics were also changed and will go to trial at a later date.
What Happened To Elijah McClain?
On Aug. 24, 2019, Elijah McClain was on his way home from a gas station where he bought four cans of Brisk tea when he encountered officers. They stopped him after receiving calls of a “suspicious man.”
Soon, the situation escalated and they put McClain, a Denver native and massage therapist in Aurora, in a chokehold and forced him to the ground for 15 minutes. He eventually started vomiting and complaining that he couldn’t breathe.
“There was a physical struggle,” former APD Chief Nick Metz said back in October. “When (police) saw (McClain), they told him to stop. He wouldn’t stop. Again, he was wearing a ski mask, it’s 10:30 p.m. in a residential area, so obviously that creates some concern.”
However, according to Elijah’s family, he was anemic and he favored wearing a ski mask to keep his face warm while he was walking.
George Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020, was the catalyst for renewed calls for justice in the death of Elijah McClain. After Floyd’s death, activists demanded policy changes throughout the country including banning the chokehold.
An independent probe launched in February 2021, found that police and paramedics made crucial errors, leading to the 23-year-old’s demise. The report released stated that Aurora, Colorado, police officers involved in the fatal August 2019 confrontation did not have a legal basis to stop him, frisk him or physically restrain him.
“At the time of the (ketamine) injection, Mr. McClain had not moved or made any sounds for about one minute,” a section of the 157-page report states, according to CNN. “In addition, EMS administered a ketamine dosage based on a grossly inaccurate and inflated estimate of Mr. McClain’s size.”
McClain who stood at 5-foot-7 and 140 pounds was administered enough ketamine for a man weighing 190 pounds, according to the panel’s findings.
Cops, Paramedics Charged In Black Man’s ‘Murder’
In September 2021, the Colorado police officers and paramedics involved in Elijah McClain’s death were indicted by a grand jury.
The manslaughter indictments in Elijah McClain’s death — which advocates have called “murder” — came more than one year after the Aurora City Council unanimously voted to adopt a resolution calling for an independent investigation following allegations of misconduct by officers with the Aurora Police Department and the responding paramedics.
A total of five people were charged — two police officers, one former police officer and two paramedics — each with one count of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide for the death that was preceded by McClain telling police that he couldn’t breathe because of the chokehold in which he was placed.
The trial for Nathan Woodyard, the first Aurora officer to confront McClain the night he died, will begin on Friday.
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