Three Colorado cops and two paramedics have been charged in the 2019 death of 23-year-old black man Elijah McClain after he was put in a chokehold and injected with ketamine.
Aurora Police officers Randy Roedema, Nathan Woodyard and Jason Rosenblatt and fire department paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec were indicted by a grand jury Wednesday on charges of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.
Roedema and Rosenblatt also each were 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 also each face three counts of second-degree assault.
McClain, who worked as a massage therapist, was stopped by police and put in a chokehold while walking home from a convenience store on Aug. 24, 2019 after someone reported him as being suspicious.
The 911 caller reported a man wearing a ski mask and waving his arms around. In the aftermath, McClain’s family said he wore a face mask because he had anemia and got cold easily.
Body camera video captured him telling police: “I can’t breathe.”
Paramedics injected him with 500 milligrams of the tranquilizer ketamine to subdue him, which is more than 1.5 times the dose for his weight.
McClain went into cardiac arrest and was declared brain dead. He was taken off life support days later.
The district attorney had said in 2019 he couldn’t charge the officers involved because an autopsy did not determine how McClain died.
After McClain’s death gained widespread attention last year amid the nationwide protests against racism and police brutality, multiple investigations were ordered – including a criminal probe by Attorney General Phil Weiser.
In announcing the indictments Wednesday, Weiser said “our goal is to seek justice for Elijah McClain, for his family and his friends.”
“He was a son, a nephew, a brother, a friend. When he died, he was only 23 years old,” Weiser said. “He had his whole life ahead of him.”
McClain’s father, LaWayne Mosley, issued a statement saying: “Nothing will bring back my son, but I am thankful that his killers will finally be held accountable.”
With Post wires