A jury reached a split verdict in Adams County Court for two Aurora police officers on trial on suspicion of murder..Four years ago, the death of an unarmed young black man drew widespread attention in Colorado and beyond. and at the Aurora Police Department.
The verdict was handed down around 4:20 p.m. Thursday, and the judge read the verdict less than 30 minutes later.
The jury found Randy Rodma guilty of criminally negligent homicide and third-degree assault, and Jason Rosenblatt was found not guilty of criminally negligent homicide and assault. Roedema is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 5 at 1:30 p.m. in Adams County Court.
The 23-year-old man died after emergency services received a call about a suspicious person walking in the street. On August 24, 2019, they arrived at Colfax Avenue and Billings Street to find McClain wearing a mask and carrying groceries. Jason Rosenblatt, Randy Roedema and another officer were indicted by a grand jury for forcibly restraining McClain during a violent fight, police body camera footage revealed The incident was captured on film. They face felony charges of criminally negligent homicide, manslaughter and second-degree assault. However, jurors can choose to convict on a lesser charge, as they did in Rudema’s case, where they found him guilty of third-degree assault. crime.
CBS News Colorado’s Karen Moffitt spoke with McClain’s mother after the sentencing. “This is what happens in the divided United States of America,” Shaineen McClain said outside the Adams County Courthouse, visibly upset as she walked to the parking lot.
Rosenblatt no longer works for the Aurora Police Department. Ludema and the third responding officer, Nathan Woodyard, have been suspended without pay.
“We are gathered here today because Elijah McClain mattered. He was only 23 when he died, and he had his whole life ahead of him. Over the past few years, his mother, Shaineen McClain, has had to Reliving that night again and again. I and “all members of our team are deeply inspired by her. Her commitment and dedication to her son and justice,” said Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser . “She was determined to never let anyone forget Elijah McClane, how he lived and how he died. I’m grateful for Shainin’s strength, for her grace, for her commitment to justice, and for her resilience in this process .The memory of Elijah McClain is a blessing to be alive.”
Woodyard also faces a separate trial for the paramedic who injected McClainHe also faces a separate trial shortly after his interaction with officers. After taking the drug, McClain went into cardiac arrest and was declared brain dead. He died a few days later.
A coroner’s report released in 2021 said McClain’s death was caused by the administration of a powerful sedative, and the coroner said he could not rule out that carotid artery compression applied by police to McClain caused his death. The purpose of the hold is to restrict blood flow to the brain.
During the trial, prosecutors said Rosenblatt and Lederma ignored McClain’s cries that he couldn’t breathe as he struggled with them. They said the officers violated department policy by using excessive force and failing to take steps to de-escalate the situation. They said these actions made McClain medically more likely to die from the dose of ketamine he received.
Defense attorneys tried to convince the jury that McClain’s death was entirely attributable to paramedics and the drugs they administered that caused McClain to lose consciousness. They said the officers acted in accordance with policy and department training. They said when they told McClain to stop in a so-called high-crime area, it took him several attempts to react.
Footage from a camera worn by McClain during the interaction was played several times in the courtroom during the trial.
“Stop right there. Stop. Stop,” one of the officers said in a video, as McClain was returning home from a convenience store, to which he responded, “I have the right to go where I’m going. The officer responded, “Stop. Stop. I have the right to stop you because you’re suspicious.” After a neck restraint was applied, McClain can be heard saying in the video that he was having trouble breathing.
Neither officer took the stand to defend themselves at the trial, and the defense called no witnesses.
Trials with other first responders are scheduled to begin this weekend (Woodyard) and next month (paramedics Peter Cichuniec and Jeremy Cooper).
Attorneys with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office are prosecuting all cases. The district attorney representing Adams County decided not to charge the officers in the months after McClain’s death, in part because an initial coroner’s report could not determine the exact cause of McClain’s death. A revised report will be released in 2021.
In closing arguments, prosecutors argued that officers failed to follow multiple police policies and that McClain had trouble breathing before taking ketamine. Defense attorneys for the officers argued that the state presented little evidence that either officer’s actions contributed to McClain’s death and that they followed training to call paramedics immediately after using a chokehold.
Prosecutor Duane Lyons said: “No reasonable police officer would believe that this was appropriate for a person to be handcuffed.”
“You would think that if they thought there was some kind of criminal case here against Randy Rodma, they would at least be able to get a live witness,” one of his defense attorneys said.
“We know this prosecution will be difficult. Nonetheless, it is important to bring this very important case to a jury so that the jury can hear the evidence, review all the facts, and make a judgment,” Weiser said. “I’m deeply proud of the team behind me for their hard work, seriousness of purpose and the way they put everything they had into this prosecution. They have demonstrated the strongest cast they can lead to hold accountable those responsible for this prosecution.” The responsibility of the actor responsible for this incident.” Death of Elijah McClain. ”
The impact of Maclean’s death
Partly as a result of McClain’s death, Colorado now bans chokeholds by law enforcement officers. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has also limited guidance on using ketamine in emergency situations where people are acting erratically.
APD has passed several police chiefs since McClain’s death, and the city has signed a consent decree mandating police reforms around use of force and racial bias.
AuroraMcLean with his family two years after his death.That settled a federal civil rights lawsuit they filed.