AURORA, Colo. — The only Aurora police officer found guilty in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain will serve 14 months in an Adams County jail and several years of probation.
Randy Roedema, the most senior officer who responded to the scene the night 23-year-old McClain was apprehended and later died in the hospital, was convicted in October by a jury of criminally negligent homicide, a felony and third-degree assault, a misdemeanor.
Judge Mark Warner sentenced Roedema to 14 months for the third-degree assault conviction with work release authorization. On the charge of criminally negligent homicide, the judge sentenced the defendant to 4 years probation to run concurrently with the other charge.
Roedema was also ordered to serve 200 hours of community service and was denied the setting of an appeal bond but has 49 days to appeal his sentence.
Elijah McClain was stopped while walking home from a convenience store on August 24, 2019 after a 911 caller reported seeing a “sketchy” man in the neighborhood.
The criminally negligent homicide conviction could have carried a sentence from probation to three years in prison while the assault charge was punishable by up to two years in jail.
Officers responded, placing McClain in a carotid hold and pinning him down before Aurora Fire Medics later injected him with a heavy dose of ketamine.
The neckhold was at the center of the case but the administration of ketamine by paramedics was the “ultimate cause of death,” his defense argued.
McClain was taken to an Aurora hospital where he was taken off life support and died on August 27, 2019.
During McClain’s fatal encounter with police, Roedema helped hold down McClain while paramedics injected him with the sedative.
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Roedema was terminated by the Aurora Police Department following his conviction in October.
Moments before Roedema was sentenced, Sheneen McClain, Elijah's mother, delivered a victim impact statement in the courtroom.
"It is painfully obvious that my son's murderer was not taught the same values about humanity and kindness that I was. They were not taught. Roedema was not taught the valuable lessons of life's purpose," she said. "Elijah McClain had no criminal activity or record at the time of his murder on Aug. 24, 2019. Elijah was a young adult who had his whole life ahead of him."
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After the guilty verdict in the fall of 2023, McClain’s mother reacted to the decision in a statement to Denver7.
"This is America and it was never great to the nations of people that were captured, enslaved, raped, and murdered for their lands or their labor. America needs to start telling the truth about its history and changing the way it treats all the people that pay into its systems of control. America is divided in so many ways, on so many levels, and in so many areas of understanding. If America ever wants to be great, then it has to enforce equity as well as equality that is represented in every law and seat that every citizen is governed by," said Sheneen McClain. "Don't say sorry to me for humans that fail even their own kind. My soul still cries out for Divine Justice For My Son Elijah McClain."
At the end of the joint trial, a jury also acquitted Aurora officer Jason Rosenblatt of any charges in McClain’s death.
During Friday's sentencing hearing, Roedema's defense along with family and friends testifying on his behalf, asked Judge Mark Warner to hand down a judgment of probation and if incarceration were ordered, that the sentence be no more than 6 months.
The prosecution urged Judge Warner to sentence Roedema to a maximum of 3 years.
A second trial was held for Aurora Officer Nathan Woodyard, who was accused of placing McClain in a chokehold rendering him unconscious.
After the 11-day trial, the jury found Woodyard not guilty of reckless manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.
After the acquittal, Woodyard, who was suspended from the force without pay in September 2021, was ultimately reinstated within the Aurora Police Department.
While Roedema was the only officer convicted in a series of trials in McClain’s death, a jury in a separate trial found two Aurora paramedics, Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec, guilty of criminally negligent homicide, after injecting McClain with a deadly dose of ketamine.
Both paramedics were found not guilty of the additional charges of reckless manslaughter and second-degree assault with the intent to cause bodily injury/causing serious bodily injury. Chichuniec was found guilty of second-degree assault by unlawful administration of drugs with a crime of violence enhancer. Cooper was acquitted of the same charge.
Aurora Fire Medics were trained to use ketamine to treat excited delirium, but McClain’s death spurred calls to restrict the use of the sedative by first responders leading to a complete ban signed into Colorado law in 2021.
Sentencing for both paramedics was scheduled for March 1, 2024.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.