Several police officers and paramedics have been arrested in connection with Elijah McClain’s death by the grand jury on Wednesday (Sept. 1). It comes nearly eight months after the grand jury investigation into the in-custody death of the Black 23-year-old, who died in Aurora, Colorado, in 2019.
The State Attorney General, Phil Weiser, who announced a 32-count indictment on behalf of a grand jury, said the five defendants face several charges, including manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.
In addition to being charged with a count of second-degree assault with intent to injure, Nathan Woodyard, Randy Roedema, and ex-officer Jason Rosenblatt face one count of a crime of violence.
Two paramedics, Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec, face second-degree assault charges for recklessly injuring people with a deadly weapon and second-degree assault for a purpose other than medical treatment. Paramedics who committed assault also face two charges of crime of violence.
Just over two years have passed since the incident that led to McClain’s death that began with him being detained by Aurora police and placed in a chokehold. Cops confronted McClain on Aug. 24, 2019; and said he “resisted contact.” A body camera video captured McClain saying he was an introvert and asking police to “please respect the boundaries that I’m talking about.”
McClain’s arrest was attributed to an officer thinking McClain reached for a holstered gun. There was a struggle between the men, police said, and police applied a carotid control hold, which restricts blood flow to the brain. McClain was given a dose of ketamine by paramedics when they arrived, which an investigation panel stated would have been sufficient to sedate a 190-pound man.
McClain experienced cardiac arrest and lost his pulse seven minutes after receiving the drug. He was revived by doctors, but was pronounced brain dead and removed from life support less than one week later.
Woodyard and Roedema remain with the department, but are on desk duty as a result of the incident. Rosenblatt was fired last July on the grounds that he posed for photographs mocking McClain’s death. A fourth police officer also resigned.
The city commissioned an independent investigation in February that concluded that officers and paramedics were without legal authority to hold and medicate McClain “without engaging in any more than a brief visual observation.”