NewsElijah McClain | 360 In-Depth Coverage


Opening statements to begin Tuesday in trial against third officer charged in Elijah 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
nathan woodyard trial begins.png
Posted at 7:28 PM, Oct 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-01 18:27:28-04

ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. — The jury has been seated, and opening statements will begin Tuesday in the trial against the third Aurora police officer charged in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain.

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

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

Elijah McClain Indictments: A 360 In-Depth look

Elijah McClain | 360 In-Depth Coverage

1:10 PM, Sep 19, 2023

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 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.

nathan woodyard trial begins.png

Elijah McClain | 360 In-Depth Coverage

Elijah McClain: Jury selection begins in trial against third officer

Óscar Contreras
11:49 AM, Oct 13, 2023

Woodyard was suspended from the force without pay per the city's charter. Opening statements in his trial will begin Tuesday at 10 a.m.

Roedema was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide and third-degree assault in McClain's death, while Rosenblatt was acquitted of all charges.

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.

D7 follow up bar 2460x400FINAL.png
The Follow Up
What do you want Denver7 to follow up on? Is there a story, topic or issue you want us to revisit? Let us know with the contact form below.