Jurors in Brighton delivered a split decision in the trial of two Aurora police officers charged in the death of Elijah McClain. Aurora police officer Randy Roedema, 41, was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide and third-degree assault, while former officer Jason Rosenblatt, 34, was acquitted on all charges. Roedema will return to Adams County District Court for sentencing, while the case against Rosenblatt is now over.
Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old, was approached by officers on August 24, 2019, after a 911 caller reported him as a suspicious person. Within seconds, the officers threw McClain to the ground and restrained him. One officer, Nathan Woodyard, applied a carotid hold, causing McClain to lose consciousness. McClain suffered a heart attack after being injected with ketamine by Aurora paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec. He passed away in the hospital days later.
Prosecutors argued that McClain would be alive if not for the officers’ actions during the encounter. Defense attorneys for Rosenblatt and Roedema sought to shift blame to the paramedics, McClain, and alleged political motivations behind the prosecution.
The case gained renewed attention in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd, leading to calls for police reform and protests across the United States. Three officers and two paramedics were indicted in 2021 after an investigation. Roedema, Woodyard, Cooper, and Cichuniec have been suspended without pay pending the outcome of their criminal cases.
Roedema’s guilty verdict includes charges of criminally negligent homicide, a low-level felony, and third-degree assault, a misdemeanor. Rosenblatt, who was fired in 2020 after making an inappropriate text message comment, was acquitted on all charges.
Sheneen McClain, Elijah’s mother, expressed her frustration with the verdict, stating, “This is the divided states of America, and that’s what happens.” She raised her fist in the air as she left the courtroom.
Nathan Woodyard’s trial is scheduled to take place at the end of the week. Peter Cichuniec and Jeremy Cooper face trial next month.
Sentencing for Randy Roedema is scheduled for Jan. 5 at 1:30 p.m. in Adams County Court.