Colorado officers, paramedics charged in 2019 death of Elijah McClain

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser (D) announced Wednesday that three police officers and two paramedics have been charged in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man.

McClain was killed in August 2019 after he was stopped by police officers and injected with ketamine.

All five defendants face one count of manslaughter and one count of criminally negligent homicide. The charges stem from a grand jury investigation that began in January.

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The indictments were handed down to Aurora Police Department officers Nathan Woodyard and Randy Roedema and former officer Jason Rosenblatt, as well as paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec.

“This week marks the two-year anniversary of Elijah’s tragic death, and we know his family mourns him. It brought back painful memories for me like it did for scores of Aurora residents and other people across the country. We must remember that no civil or criminal investigation will erase the pain and heartbreak of Elijah’s loss," Aurora City Manager Jim Twombly said in a statement. 

"This tragedy has greatly changed and shaped Aurora. Today’s announcement is an important step in restoring the community’s trust in Aurora’s public safety agencies and in honoring Elijah’s life," he added.

An independent probe submitted to the Aurora City Council in February determined that the police and paramedics involved were at fault in McClain’s death, saying there was no reason to stop McClain, who was walking home from a convenience store.

That report also concluded that no crime had been reported when McClain was stopped and he wasn’t exhibiting any threatening behavior.

McClain was stopped by police who were responding to a call about a "sketchy" individual entering a convenience store. A confrontation began after one of the officers accused McClain of reaching for the policeman's weapon.

Officers used a carotid hold as they pinned McClain down on the ground and injected him with ketamine to sedate him. McClain suffered cardiac arrest while being taken to the hospital and died three days later.

His family has filed a lawsuit against the police officers and paramedics involved in his death.

Weiser's office pointed to the attorney general's statement when reached for comment.

McClain's death garnered national attention after the May 2020 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

— Updated at 4:33 p.m.