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Grand Jury Indicts Police, Paramedics in Death of Elijah McClain

Elijah McClain
Justice is neither guaranteed in this life nor is it always swift — but if you're patient enough sometimes it comes. 

The family of Elijah McClain, an unarmed black man killed in an encounter with police officers in Aurora, Colorado two years ago, is more hopeful than ever that is the case in the death of their son, after Colorado Attorney General  Phil Weiser announced Wednesday that the three police offices and two paramedics involved were indicted by a grand jury. 

"Late last Thursday, after careful and thoughtful deliberation, the grand jury returned a 32-count indictment against Aurora police officers Randy Roedema and Nathan Woodyard, former Aurora Police officer Jason Rosenblatt, and Aurora Fire Rescue paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec for their alleged conduct on the night of August 24, 2019, that resulted in Mr. McClain’s death," said Weiser at a press conference announcing the results of the lengthy investigation. "Each of the five defendants face one count of manslaughter and one count of criminally negligent homicide. Officers Roedema and Rosenblatt also each face a count of second-degree assault with intent to cause bodily injury and caused serious bodily injury to Mr. McClain. Both also face one count of a crime of violence related to the second-degree assault (bodily injury) charge."

Weiser added that in addition to the manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges, paramedics Cooper and Cichuniec, who are alleged to have administered a lethal dose of ketamine which prosecutors believe may have killed McClain also face:

  • One count second-degree assault with intent to cause bodily injury and caused serious bodily injury,
  • One count second-degree assault for recklessly causing serious bodily injury by means of a deadly weapon (Ketamine), and
  • One count second-degree assault for a purpose other than lawful medical or therapeutic treatment, intentionally causing stupor, unconsciousness, or other physical or mental impairment or injury to Mr. McClain, by administering a drug (Ketamine) without consent.

Cooper and Cichuniec also face two counts of crimes of violence for each of the assault charges.

"Nothing will bring back my son, but I am thankful that his killers will finally be held accountable," said LaWayne Mosley, McClain's father, in a statement provided by his attorney.

It's something the family had trouble believing two years ago when the 23-year-old massage therapist and violin player died after Aurora police and medics, responding to a 911 call that he wore a face mask into a convenience store to buy iced tea — eventually forced him to the ground, placed him into a now-banned type of chokehold (carotid artery) and injected him with the tranquilizer Ketamine. No crime was reported by the caller. McClain was not armed.

“I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe please. I can’t. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe, please stop," McClain — who according to his family choked on his own vomit, had a heart attack and never recovered —pleaded with officers before drawing his last breath in footage from the officer's bodycam footage.

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