UNITED STATES NEWS

2nd police officer acquitted in death of Elijah McClain, who was put in a neck hold, given ketamine

Nov 6, 2023, 3:25 PM

BRIGHTON, Colo. (AP) — A second Denver-area police officer was acquitted Monday in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain, who was put in a neck hold and injected with ketamine after being stopped by police as he walked home from a convenience store.

The jury found Aurora officer Nathan Woodyard not guilty of homicide and manslaughter following a weekslong trial in state district court. He faced years in prison if convicted.

The case received little attention until protests over the 2020 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked renewed outrage over McClain’s death. The 23-year-old Black man’s pleading words captured on police body camera video, “I’m an introvert and I’m different,” struck a chord.

An earlier trial against two other officers resulted in split verdict, with one convicted of homicide and third degree assault and the other officer acquitted.

McClain died after being put in a neck hold by Woodyard, then pinned to the ground by Woodyard and several other officers before he was injected by paramedics with an overdose of ketamine.

Defense attorneys stressed Woodyard was not there during crucial minutes when McClain’s condition was deteriorating. Body camera footage seen by jurors showed Woodyard stepping away for part of the confrontation.

Two paramedics are awaiting trial later this month.

A local prosecutor in 2019 decided against criminal charges because the coroner’s office could not determine exactly how the massage therapist died. But Colorado Gov. Jared Polis ordered state Attorney General Phil Weiser’s office to take another look at the case in 2020 and a grand jury indicted the officers and paramedics in 2021.

The killings of McClain, Floyd and others triggered a wave of legislation that put limits on the use of neck holds in more than two dozen states. Colorado now tells paramedics not to give ketamine to people suspected of having a controversial condition known as excited delirium, which has symptoms including increased strength and has been associated with racial bias against Black men.

Unlike the first two officers who were prosecuted, Woodyard took the stand during his trial. He testified that he put McClain in the carotid control hold because he feared for his life after he heard McClain say, “I intend to take my power back” and another officer say, “He just grabbed your gun, dude.”

McClain was stopped Aug. 24, 2019, while walking home from a convenience store on a summer night, listening to music and wearing a mask that covered most of his face. The police stop quickly became physical after McClain, seemingly caught off guard, asked to be left alone. He had not been accused of committing any crime.

Woodyard and other officers told investigators they took McClain down after hearing Officer Randy Roedema say, “He grabbed your gun dude.” Roedema later said Officer Jason Rosenblatt’s gun was the target.

Paramedics injected McClain with ketamine as Roedema and another officer who was not charged held him on the ground. He went into cardiac arrest en route to the hospital and died three days later.

Roedema was convicted earlier this month of the least serious charges he faced which could lead to a sentence of anywhere from probation to prison time.

Rosenblatt was acquitted of all charges. His lawyer said the most junior officer on scene was a scapegoat in a prosecution driven by politics.

In both trials, the defense sought to pin the blame for McClain’s death on paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Lt. Peter Cichuniec. But while attorneys in the first trial suggested McClain bore some responsibility for his medical decline by struggling with police, Woodyard’s lawyers seemed more sympathetic to McClain.

Woodyard said he put his arm around McClain’s neck and applied pressure on its sides to stop the flow of blood to McClain’s brain and render him briefly unconscious. The technique, known as a carotid control hold, was allowed at the time but later banned in Colorado, one of more than two dozen states that took steps to limit neck restraints after Floyd’s killing.

Prosecutors refuted that McClain ever tried to grab an officer’s gun and it can’t be seen in body camera footage.

The city of Aurora in 2021 agreed to pay $15 million to settle a lawsuit brought by McClain’s parents.

United States News

United States' forward LeBron James waves to the crowd after the end of an exhibition basketball ga...

Associated Press

LeBron James selected as Team USA male flagbearer for Paris Olympics opening ceremony

LeBron James wasn’t totally sure what the opening ceremony was all about when he was picked for his first Olympics in 2004. This time, he’ll be one of the stars of the show. James has been picked by his fellow U.S. Olympians to serve as the male flagbearer for the Americans in Friday night’s opening […]

49 minutes ago

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan speaks to employees in Washington, Thur...

Associated Press

EPA awards $4.3 billion to fund projects in 30 states to reduce climate pollution

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency is awarding $4.3 billion in grants to fund projects in 30 states to reduce climate pollution. The money will go to 25 projects targeting greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, electric power, commercial and residential buildings, industry, agriculture and waste and materials management. The grants are paid for by […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Stock market today: Asian shares fall after Wall St ends worst week; Biden withdraw from 2024 race

Asian stocks were mostly lower Monday after President Joe Biden exited the 2024 race. The downbeat start to the week followed losses Friday on Wall Street as businesses around the world scrambled to contain disruptions from a massive technology outage. U.S. futures were little changed and oil prices rose. Biden announced his withdrawal from the […]

7 hours ago

FILE - San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris poses for a portrait in San Francisco, June 18...

Associated Press

Vice President Kamala Harris leads list of contenders for spots on the Democratic ticket

President Joe Biden’s decision to step down as the Democratic Party’s nominee for president opens the door for other contenders to become the Democratic nominee in November. The president has thrown his support behind Vice President Kamala Harris, and other prominent Democrats moved quickly to rally around her candidacy, but it’s unclear just how smooth […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Alaska police and US Coast Guard searching for missing plane with 3 people onboard

Alaska authorities are conducting a search for a missing airplane with three people onboard. Alaska State Troopers received a report from the U.S. Coast Guard of a missing plane shortly before 7:30 p.m. Saturday, the state Department of Public Safety said in a statement. The single-propeller, 1948 Beach Craft Bonanza was flying near Mount Crillon […]

8 hours ago

Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, arrives to speak at a campaign event ...

Associated Press

JD Vance makes solo debut as GOP vice presidential candidate with Monday rallies in Virginia, Ohio

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (AP) — To move overnight to set up Monday rally. Republican JD Vance will make his first solo appearances on the campaign trail Monday, a day after the 2024 presidential race was thrown into upheaval as President Joe Biden dropped out of the race, making the Democratic candidate an open question. Vance, an […]

8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 storylines to get you revved up for the 2024 Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals training camp is just a couple weeks away starting on July 25, and Sanderson Ford is revved up and ready to go.

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

2nd police officer acquitted in death of Elijah McClain, who was put in a neck hold, given ketamine