Grand Jury Indicts 5 in Elijah McClain Death

Aurora police, paramedics face charges in death of unarmed Black man
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 1, 2021 1:46 PM CDT
3 Officers, 2 Paramedics Indicted in Elijah McClain Death
"It’s huge to know they’re indicted. But I know it’s not over. We still have to go to trial," said Sheneen McClain, the mother of Elijah McClain.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

Two years ago, Elijah McClain went out to buy some iced tea for his brother and ended up dead. Now, three police officers—two current and one former—have been indicted in the 23-year-old Black man's death, along with two paramedics. Arrest warrants were issued for all five Wednesday after a state grand jury indicted them on charges including manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, the Denver Post reports. McClain was stopped by police as he walked home from a store in Aurora, Colorado on Aug. 24, 2019. Officers, who said he hadn't obeyed an order to stop walking, put the 140-pound man in a carotid hold before paramedics injected him with ketamine. He suffered multiple cardiac arrests and was declared brain dead when he arrived at a hospital. He was taken off life support six days later.

A review carried out by the city of Aurora found that officers did not have good cause to stop McClain, the AP reports. A 911 caller had said he was waving his arms around and seemed "sketchy." Family members say he had been listening to music and was wearing a ski mask because his anemia caused him to get cold easily. In police body camera footage, McClain, who was unarmed, can he heard saying: "I’m just different, that’s all. That’s all I was doing. I’m so sorry. I have no gun. I don’t do that stuff." Friends and relatives described McClain, a massage therapist, as a gentle, eccentric introvert who spent his lunch breaks playing the violin to comfort abandoned cats at animal shelters.

No charges were brought at the time, but Gov. Jared Polis called for a new investigation last year amid the national protests over police violence that followed George Floyd's death. The 32-count indictment also includes assault charges against the paramedics and two of the officers, CNN reports. Two of the officers, Nathan Woodyard and Randy Roedema, are still employed by the Aurora Police Department, the Post reports. The third, Jason Rosenblatt, was fired last year for replying "ha ha" to a photo of fellow officers smiling as they re-enacted the carotid hold at a memorial site for McClain.

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Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser announced the indictments Wednesday. "We're here today because Elijah McClain is not here and he should be," he said. "When he died he was only 23 years old. He had his whole life ahead of him and his family and his friends must now go on and must live without him." (More Elijah McClain stories.)

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