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Grand jury returns 32-count indictment against Aurora officers, paramedics in Elijah McClain’s death

Colorado’s statewide grand jury has returned a 32-count indictment against the Aurora police officers and paramedics who stopped 23-year-old Elijah McClain two years ago in an encounter that preceded his death, Attorney General Phil Weiser announced Wednesday.

Five people — three police officers and two paramedics — each were charged-with one count of manslaughter and one count of criminally negligent homicide after Weiser’s office filed the indictment in Adams County District Court on Wednesday.

Manslaughter is a Class 4 felony in Colorado punishable by up to six years in prison, while criminally negligent homicide is a Class 5 felony punishable by up to three years in prison. Both offenses are probation eligible.

The indicted officers are Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt and Randy Roedema. Rosenblatt was fired from the Aurora Police Department last year after he responded “ha ha” to a text-messaged image of other officers reenacting a neck hold like the one police used on McClain.

The indicted Aurora Fire Rescue paramedics are Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec, a lieutenant.

Elijah’s mother, Sheneen McClain, learned of the charges Tuesday and said she is “grateful that my son is going to have his justice.”

“I’ve been crying just thinking about the process that it’s took after two years to get this report,” Sheneen said Wednesday morning. “I’m overwhelmed. I didn’t know what the outcome was going to be, honestly. I had no expectations, honestly.”

Sheneen said she is waiting to see how fast Officers Woodyard and Roedema are fired.

“I’m not just a crazy mom trying to fight a fight that’s not worthy,” she said. “This is a worthy fight for my son’s justice.”

Weiser spoke for about 10 minutes at a news conference where he announced the charges. He didn’t take any questions.

“At the time, I said our investigation would be guided by a commitment to the facts, by thorough and diligent work and be worthy of public trust and confidence in our criminal justice system,” Weiser said during the news conference. “These remain our guiding principles for this matter.”

McClain was stopped by police Aug. 24, 2019, as he was walking home from a convenience store. He was carrying cans of iced tea in a plastic grocery bag and listening to music using earbuds connected to his phone. McClain, who was frequently cold, was also wearing a black mask despite it being a warm night.

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