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Judge Lets Criminal Case Against Elijah McClain’s Killers Proceed

by Mike Creef, Staff Writer
Judge Lets Criminal Case Against Elijah McClain's Killers Proceed
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An Adams County District Court judge is allowing the criminal case against Elijah McClain’s killers to proceed.

Judge Priscilla Loew reviewed the case of the five officers and paramedics charged in the 2019 killing of Elijah McClain, and found that there was enough evidence to support the charges and for a criminal case to proceed.

“After reviewing the grand jury materials, the court finds, when viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the people and with all inferences in favor of the prosecution, there is sufficient evidence to establish probable cause for each of the counts listed in the grand jury indictment filed with the court on Sept. 1, 2022,” Loew wrote in her order.

A grand jury indicted five men, Aurora police officers Nathan Woodyard, Randy Roedema, and Jason Rosenblatt, and two Aurora Fire and Rescue paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec with a combined 32 counts in connection with McClain’s death.

The most serious charges include manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

All five defendants have been scheduled to appear in court for arraignment on Aug. 12, according to court documents.

The Death of Elijah McClain

McClain was stopped by three White officers on Aug. 24, 2019, while they responded to a call about a suspicious person wearing a ski mask and waving his arms. Police put him in a carotid control chokehold, leading to McClain saying “I can’t breathe”. 

McClain’s lawyer attributed the ski mask to the fact that McClain was anemic and often cold.

Paramedics arrived on the scene and gave McClain 500 milligrams of ketamine, a short-acting general anesthetic, an amount McClain’s lawyers claimed was “excessive”.

McClain suffered from cardiac arrest in an ambulance shortly after, and was pronounced dead three days later. 

Aurora Pays Out $15 Million Settlement to Elijah McClain family

In July 2020, nearly a year after McClain’s death, the Aurora City Council ordered a private investigation and released the findings seven months later.

The council concluded that the original investigation by the Aurora Police Department’s major crimes unit was badly flawed and alleged the detectives “stretched the record to exonerate the officers rather than present a neutral version of the facts.”

In November 2021, the city of Aurora reached a $15 million settlement with the family of McClain after a civil rights lawsuit was filed.

McClain’s father told KDVR that “nothing will bring back my son, but I am thankful that his killers will finally be held accountable”. 

“For far too long, racist and brutal police across this country have acted as though the law does not apply to them. This indictment serves as a powerful reminder to all members of law enforcement that no one is above the law,” said the family’s attorney Mari Newman.

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