Three Officers, Two Paramedics, Indicted in Elijah McClain’s Death

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A grand jury in Colorado indicted three police officers and two paramedics in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain.

McClain had been on his way home on foot when the police stopped him. Not long after, he was placed in a banned carotid artery chokehold before being injected with ketamine, a powerful anesthetic.

The chokehold has since been banned.

Officers were responding to a 911 call that McClain had worn a face mask into a convenience store to buy some iced tea. The caller said that he looked “suspicious.” He was not accused of committing a crime.

“I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe please. I can’t. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe, please stop,” McClain can be heard pleading in the body camera footage.

“Our goal is to seek justice for Elijah McClain, for his family and friends, and for our state,” Attorney General Phil Weiser said at a news conference announcing the charges. “We’re here today because Elijah McClain is not here, and he should be.”

Aurora police officers Randy Roedema, Nathan Woodyard and Jason Rosenblatt, have all been charged. They were fired from their jobs last year. Paramedic Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec of the Aurora Fire Department have also been charged. They will each face one charge of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide as well as a variety of assault charges.

In 2019, Adams County District Attorney Dave Young declined to bring criminal charges. Young insisted that prosecutors had insufficient evidence to prove the officers caused McClain’s death or that their force was unjustified.

However, during the summer of 2020, Gov. Jared Polis announced a re-examination of the case following a public outline and online petition. In January, Weiser was appointed as special prosecutor and opened a grand jury investigation.

“I started crying because it’s been two years,” McClain’s mother, Sheneen McClain, said to CNN. “It’s been a long journey, you know, and it’s overwhelming. I’m still processing it, you know, because this is one of those things that has never really been done and is being done right here because of my son, so it’s overwhelming.”

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