NewsElijah McClain | 360 In-Depth Coverage


Elijah McClain: Jury selection begins in second trial against third officer charged in McClain’s death

Aurora Officer Nathan Woodyard was the first officer to arrive at the scene of McClain’s fatal arrest more than 4 years ago
Posted: 11:49 AM, Oct 13, 2023
Updated: 2023-10-17 01:07:14-04
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ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. — Jury selection was expected to begin Friday in the trial against the third Aurora police officer charged in the death of an unarmed Black man whose death in 2019 spurred a nationwide reckoning on excessive use of force by police against people of color and led to sweeping police reform in the state less than a year later.

The trial for Aurora Police Officer Nathan Woodyard, who is charged with reckless manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in the death of 23-year-old Elijah McClain, begins a day after a split verdict was reached in the trial against former Aurora Police Officers Jason Rosenblatt and Randy Roedema.

All three officers have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.

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Woodyard was the first officer to respond to the area of Billings St. and E. Colfax Ave. after the police department received a 911 call of a “sketchy man” in the neighborhood with a ski mask who was reportedly waving his hands in the air.

The officer ordered McClain to stop and grabbed his arm as Rosenblatt and Roedema arrived at the scene to assist in McClain’s arrest.

Woodyard is accused of putting McClain in a neck hold that rendered him unconscious as paramedics arrived at the scene to give a powerful sedative that officials eventually determined played a key role in his death. McClain, a massage therapist known for his gentle nature, was just walking home from a convenience store after purchasing some iced tea. He had committed no crime.

The grand jury indictment against the three officers and two paramedics who responded to the scene came nearly two years after a local prosecutor decided against prosecuting the officers largely because the coroner’s office could not determine exactly how McClain died. He called McClain’s death “tragic,” but said that finding made it hard to prove that the officers’ actions caused his death.

A revised coroner’s report issued in 2021 said the cause of death was complications from the ketamine but also noted that that occurred after McClain was forcibly restrained. Pathologist Stephen Cina wrote he couldn’t rule out whether the stress of being held down by the officers may have contributed to McClain’s death.

The trials for the two Aurora Fire Rescue paramedics — Peter Cichuniec and Jeremy Cooper — will begin Nov. 17 and 27, respectively, for charges of reckless manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and assault, plus sentence enhancers. Both have also pleaded not guilty to the charges against them. The paramedics are accused of injecting a significant amount of ketamine into McClain, which officials said led to him suffering from cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital.

He was taken off life support three days later.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jury selection begins in trial against third officer charged in Elijah McClain’s death

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