The second trial in the death of Elijah McClain commenced on Tuesday in Adams County District Court. Suspended Aurora police Officer Nathan Woodyard, 34, faces charges of reckless manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in connection with McClain’s 2019 death. This trial follows the recent conviction of former Officer Jason Rosenblatt and Officer Randy Roedema on charges of criminally negligent homicide and misdemeanor assault.
During the opening statements, Assistant Attorney General Ann Joyce argued that Woodyard’s carotid hold initiated a series of medical injuries that, combined with the inaction of the police and paramedics, led to McClain’s death. Defense attorney Megan Downing, on the other hand, placed blame on the paramedics who administered ketamine to McClain, asserting that Woodyard did not cause his death.
The encounter between McClain and the officers occurred when McClain was walking home from a gas station wearing a runner’s mask. The officers detained McClain, forced him to the ground, and applied a carotid hold, causing him to lose consciousness. Despite McClain’s pleas for help, the officers did not allow him to adjust his body to breathe properly. Paramedics injected McClain with ketamine, and he suffered cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital, where he was later declared brain dead.
The case initially received clearance from the 17th Judicial District Attorney’s office, but it gained renewed attention in 2020 amid nationwide protests against police brutality. Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser was appointed as a special prosecutor, leading to the indictment of the officers and paramedics in 2021.