DENVER (CBS4)– Two Aurora police officers, one former Aurora police officer and two Aurora Fire Rescue medics face criminal charges in connection with the 2019 death of Elijah McClain. A statewide grand jury returned 32 charges in all, including manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, against the five men.
Attorney General Phil Weiser announced the charges nearly nine months after the grand jury began meeting and just over two years after McClain’s death.
“We’re here today because Elijah McClain is not here and he should be.”
The 23-year-old died after a violent encounter with police, who were responding to a call of a man who appeared sketchy. McClain was walking home when the officers put him in two chokeholds and tackled him.
According to the indictment, the three officers held McClain on the ground and “remained on top of him… despite pleas that he could not breathe. None of the officers checked his pulse or monitored his airway, breathing, or circulation.”
When paramedics arrived, they diagnosed him with excited delirium and injected him with 500 mg of the sedative ketamine.
The indictment states the dosage was “appropriate for a patient who weighed 77 pounds or more” and that paramedics “made no attempt to obtain his consent… did not properly monitor him…” and he “suffered multiple predictable complications” and “never regained consciousness.”
The Adams County District Attorney at the time decided against charges.
Weiser called the DA’s review limited, “Whenever a person dies after an encounter with law enforcement, the community deserves a thorough investigation and justice. As our department conducted its work, it became clear we needed the grand jury and its enhanced investigative powers to obtain documents and to compel testimony from witnesses that would otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to obtain using ordinary investigative techniques.”
While it is highly unusual for an AG’s office to handle homicides, Weiser says his office will prosecute the case, “Our goal is to seek justice for Elijah McClain, for his family and friends, and for our state.”
The AG’s office is conducting a separate investigation to determine if Aurora police and fire have “a pattern and practice” of violating people’s civil rights.
Wednesday evening, four of the five Aurora first responders turned themselves into Glendale Police. Former Aurora Police Officer Jason Rosenblatt, Officer Nathan Woodyard and paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec turned themselves in.
The status of the fifth person named in the indictment, Randy Roedema, is not known.