2 Years After Elijah McClain's Death, a Grand Jury Has Charged the Officers and Paramedics Involved

Three police officers and two paramedics have been charged with manslaughter and other charges

elijah mcclain
Elijah McClain. Photo: Family Photo

Three Denver police officers and two paramedics have been indicted on multiple charges in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man put into a chokehold and injected with ketamine in a fatal encounter.

Officers Randy Roedema, Nathan Woodyard and Jason Rosenblatt and paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec were each charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. Roedema and Rosenblatt were additionally charged with second-degree assault with intent to cause bodily injury and one count of a crime of violence related to the assault charge. Cooper and Cichuniec each face three additional counts of second-degree assault.

The grand jury indictments were announced Wednesday by state Attorney General Phil Weiser.

Police were responding to a 911 call about a suspicious person when they stopped McClain on August 24, 2019 as he walked home from a grocery store. As the encounter escalated, Officer Woodward allegedly applied a chokehold on McClain, causing him to briefly lose consciousness.

On video, McClain can be heard stating that he couldn't breathe, while the three officers allegedly held him on the ground. He vomited several times.

Paramedics arrived at the scene and injected McClain with ketamine, a powerful sedative. According to the indictment, which was obtained by ABC News, the amount of ketamine administered was appropriate for someone who weighed more than 210 lbs. McClain weighed 143 pounds.

According to an independent review commissioned by the city of Aurora, the police were wrong to stop McClain without justification. The review found that the actions by police and paramedics ultimately led to the man's cardiac arrest and death.

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The Aurora police administration initially defended the officers' actions by pointing out that McClain was wearing a mask. In November 2019, the Adams County district attorney announced, "The evidence does not support the filing of any state criminal charges against the involved officers for the unfortunate and tragic death of Mr. McClain."

That decision was overridden by Democratic governor Jared Polis, who ordered State Attorney Weiser to open a criminal investigation last year.

None of the defendants have yet entered a plea. Their attorneys have not responded to PEOPLE's requests for comment.

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