Attorney General Phil Weiser announced Wednesday that a grand jury has returned a 32-count indictment against three current and former Aurora police officers and two paramedics for the 2019 death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man.
All five face one count each of criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter, both felonies. They include officers Randy Roedema, Nathan Woodward and former officer Jason Rosenblatt, who was fired by the police department last summer. Paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec have also been charged.
”It is our department’s solemn duty to prosecute this case. … We are here today because Elijah is not here, and he should be,“ Weiser said at a news conference.
Weiser opened the grand jury investigation in January.
Officers stopped McClain on Aug. 24, 2019, as he walked home. They had responded to a call about someone acting suspicious, but the caller said they did not believe the person was armed.
The officers put McClain in a carotid hold, and paramedics called to the scene injected him with 500 milligrams of ketamine. McClain died a few days later in a hospital.
Roedema, Rosenblatt, Cooper and Cichuniac also face a count each of second-degree assault with intent to cause and causing serious bodily injury. Roedema and Rosenblatt each face a count of a crime of violence related to the assault charges.
The paramedics face counts of second-degree assault for recklessly causing serious injury with a deadly weapon, ketamine, and one count of second-degree assault for a purpose other than lawful medical or therapeutic treatment, intentionally causing stupor, unconsciousness or other physical or mental injury to McClain by administering a drug without consent.
Cooper and Cichuniac also face crimes of violence related to the assault charges.
“Nothing will bring back my son, but I am thankful that his killers will finally be held accountable,” said LaWayne Mosley, McClain’s father.
McClain’s mother, Sheneen McClain, thanked Weiser in a statement put out by her attorney. “She is even more thankful to the members of the grand jury — ordinary people who rose to the occasion and have recognized Elijah’s humanity and goodness,” said Rathod Mohamedbhai attorney Iris Halpern.
Although the 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office at the time declined to charge the officers involved, Wednesday’s announcement marks the latest development in two years of social, legislative and legal responses to McClain’s death.
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