Recorded on police body cam video killing an innocent young black man walking home from the store, three Colorado police officers and two paramedics were charged Wednesday in a 32-count indictment, including charges of manslaughter, assault, and criminally negligent homicide.
At 10:30 p.m. on August 24, 2019, the Aurora Police Department received a 911 call concerning a man wearing a ski mask. Around that time, Elijah McClain, 23, was recorded on a surveillance video purchasing iced tea at a convenience store while wearing a black mask because of a blood condition that made him feel cold, according to his family.
At 10:43 p.m., Officer Nathan Woodyard confronted McClain, who was listening to music through his earbuds, and told him that McClain was being detained because he was acting suspicious. Despite the fact that McClain had not committed any crime and was not accused of committing a crime, Officer Woodyard immediately assaulted McClain by bending his arm behind his back.
A few seconds later, Officer Jason Rosenblatt restrained McClain’s other arm when McClain said, “You guys started to arrest me, and I was stopping my music to listen. Now, let go of me.”
The officers slammed McClain against a wall as Officer Randy Roedema grabbed the grocery bag out of McClain’s hand and threw it to the ground. Officer Roedema then falsely accused McClain of grabbing Rosenblatt’s gun, but the body cam footage does not corroborate Roedema’s version of events and Rosenblatt confirmed that he did not feel any contact with his service weapon.
After the officers tackled McClain to the ground, they used a carotid choke to knock him unconscious and place him in handcuffs. When McClain regained consciousness he began pleading for his life before repeatedly vomiting into his mask, which he was unable to remove while restrained.
A few minutes later, paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Lt. Peter Cichuniec arrived at the scene and immediately diagnosed McClain with excited delirium without speaking to him or physically touching him to check his vital signs. At 10:59 p.m., Cooper injected McClain with a 500 mg dose of Ketamine.
According to the indictment, Cooper and Lt. Cichuniec failed to consider McClain’s weight of 143 pounds before administering the dose. Due to McClain’s weight, the indictment states, “Ketamine dose should have been closer to 325 mg of Ketamine.”
At 11:07 p.m., the paramedics informed the officers that McClain no longer had a pulse. Although they were able to resuscitate McClain, he was later declared brain dead and taken off life support less than a week later.
In July 2020, Rosenblatt and two other officers were fired after Rosenblatt responded “HaHa” to a selfie of officers Erica Marrero, Jaron Jones, and Kyle Dittrich near a memorial site for McClain. In the selfie, Dittrich placed Jones in a mock chokehold.
On Wednesday, the three officers and two paramedics responsible for McClain’s death were charged in a 32-count indictment. All five face charges of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.
Both Roedema and Rosenblatt each face a second degree assault charge with intent to cause bodily injury and another count of a crime of violence related to the second degree assault charge. Cooper and Cichuniec face a second degree assault with intent to cause bodily injury, with one count of second degree assault for recklessly causing bodily injury for using Ketamine as a deadly weapon. They will also receive one count of second degree assault for unlawfully administering Ketamine to McClain.
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