Five former Colorado police officers and paramedics will stand trial in the death of a young massage therapist who was approached by law enforcement on his way home from the shop in 2019. A judge has ruled that there is enough evidence on the part of prosecutors to proceed with criminal charges, although a previous judge said there was not.
On Monday, July 18, Judge Priscilla Loew of the 17th Circuit ruled that Nathan Woodyard, Randy Roedema and Jason Rosenblatt of the Aurora Police Department and Peter Cichuniec and Jeremy Cooper of the city’s ER should be tried in a total of 32 cases for her involvement in Elijah McClain’s death in August 2019, reports EMS1.
All of the men were previously indicted by a grand jury in September 2021 but never came to trial after an Arapahoe County judge determined the evidence against them would not stand up in court.
After reviewing thousands of pages of testimony and evidence, Loew said the case should go ahead.
The judge wrote in her order: “Having examined the grand jury materials, the Court finds that, considering the evidence in the light most favorable to the people, and with all conclusions in favor of the prosecution, there is sufficient evidence to establish a probable cause for each.” of the charges set forth in the grand jury indictment filed in court on September 1.”
The men are scheduled to face personal charges in court on Friday, August 12, nearly three years after McClain’s untimely passing, court documents say.
On August 24, 2019, the 23-year-old, who was suffering from a circulatory problem, returned home from shopping at a local supermarket for a bottle of iced tea. Someone reported that a person who looked sketchy was walking the neighborhood, and when police responded, they believed McClain, who was wearing a ski mask, was their suspect.
Woodyard, Roedema, and Rosenblatt confronted McClain with questions about the outing around 10:30 p.m., and he nervously answered them, telling them he didn’t have a gun and wanted his personal space. The incident was captured on their body cams.
“I’m an introvert, please respect the boundaries I speak. Leave me alone,” McClain is heard saying on her footage.
Dissatisfied with his answers, the interaction escalated. One officer even threatened McClain with attacking his dog if he didn’t comply with their demands, even though he had committed no crime. His resistance led to the cops twice applying two illegal carotid arteries to McClain when attempting to subdue him. The young man passed out but regained consciousness just before vomiting.
Cichuniec and Cooper, two paramedics, arrived at the scene and quickly assessed the situation. It took them about 15 minutes to decide on their course of action. In their haste, they diagnosed him with “excited delirium” and injected the 143-pound man with 500mg of ketamine – a dose that would have been too much for a 200-pound person.
As a result, McClain lost his pulse, stopped breathing, and went into cardiac arrest. After being rushed to the hospital, he was in a coma for four days before a doctor pronounced him brain dead.
In November 2021, the McClain family reached a historic $15 million settlement with the city of Aurora after filing a civil rights lawsuit over McClain’s arrest, which demonstrated excessive violence that led to his untimely death. Records show this was the highest settlement the Aurora Police Department had ever closed with anyone.
Still, the family wants all five individuals to face criminal charges, including manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter.
Loew’s decision gives hope to Sheheen McClain, the mother of the deceased, and her family that these men are serving time for what they did. The family’s attorney, Iris Halpern, explained that accountability is important as their actions affected more than just the lives that are now lost because of them.
“We have stood by the family throughout the case and the pain they have endured,” she told ABC News. “These are real people with loved ones and this issue affects not only the victim but those around them as well.”
Both the Aurora Police Department and the city’s emergency medical services declined to comment on the judge’s decision.
https://atlantablackstar.com/2022/07/22/sufficient-evidence-to-establish-probable-cause-five-former-aurora-police-officers-and-paramedics-to-stand-trial-on-32-charges-in-elijah-mcclains-death/ Five former Aurora cops and paramedics stand trial on 32 counts in Elijah McClain’s death