Second Colorado officer found not guilty in the death of Elijah McClain

The 2019 death of Elijah McClain in Colorado continues to make headlines as a second police officer, Nathan Woodyard, has been found not guilty of negligent homicide and reckless manslaughter charges related to the incident. This comes after another officer, Jason Rosenblatt, was acquitted of similar charges in October. However, a third officer, Randy Roedema, was found guilty in connection to McClain’s death. The death of Mr. McClain, a black man, has prompted renewed scrutiny, especially following the public outcry after the passing of George Floyd. McClain, a 23-year-old massage therapist, was walking home when he was stopped by three white police officers in the Denver suburb of Aurora. This prompted an intense confrontation captured in body camera footage where he was placed in a chokehold and eventually injected with ketamine by a medic. Despite this, the policemen involved have faced legal scrutiny and court proceedings, with Mr. Woodyard, in a recent trial, arguing that he feared for his life. However, this latest verdict has provoked public discontent and questioning about the use of force by law enforcement in handling incidents like McClain’s. Weiser, the Colorado Attorney General, announced that although the verdict has not been wholeheartedly welcomed, the state stands committed to fighting for justice in McClain’s memory. As the case continues to unfold, the fate of multiple officers and paramedics, as well as the heated conversation about police conduct in this matter, remains uncertain.

Elijah McClain
Elijah McClain

Elijah McClain died after police put him in a chokehold and a medic injected him with ketamine

In an email quoted by the Washington Post , Mr Woodyard’s lawyers said that they “never disregarded the tragic circumstances” of Mr McClain’s death but are “relieved for what we believe is the just outcome for our client”.

It was not clear if Mr Woodyard would be back on the force in Aurora. He was suspended without pay in 2020.

In a statement, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said that while the verdict “is not the one we hoped for”, the state is “undeterred in our pursuit of accountability and justice for Elijah McClain”.

“We must do all we can to stop the unlawful and unnecessary use of force that can result in people dying at the hands of law enforcement,” he added.

In October, a jury found officer Randy Roedema guilty of criminally negligent homicide and third-degree assault. Jason Rosenblatt was acquitted of reckless manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and second-degree assault. Two paramedics, Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec, are facing trial later this year.


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