Wagswoofs – A Colorado jury acquitted Aurora police officer Nathan Woodyard on Monday for the 2019 killing of Elijah McClain. McClain, a 23-year-old Black man, was put in a chokehold and given a powerful sedative, which led to his untimely death.
Weeks after a second officer, Randy Roedema, was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide and third-degree assault, the verdict was finally delivered.
Jason Rosenblatt, a former Aurora officer, was cleared of charges of reckless manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, and assault in relation to the death of McClain.
After the verdict, Aurora Police Chief Art Acevedo released a statement acknowledging the anticipation surrounding Monday’s decision.
“We must remain committed to upholding the rule of law as a nation,” he stated firmly. “Therefore, we hold the American judicial process in the highest esteem. We deeply appreciate the jury’s diligent deliberation and service, and we respect the verdict they have delivered.”
Upon hearing the verdict, Attorney General Phil Weiser expressed his recognition that prosecuting those responsible for the death of Elijah McClain would be a challenging task, but he still extended his respect towards the outcome. He affirmed his commitment to pursuing justice and accountability for McClain and his family.
Weiser expressed his thoughts on Sheneen McClain, who has been fighting tirelessly to preserve the memory of her son. He believes that no mother should ever have to endure the pain and suffering that she has gone through.
The justice system has lost Sheneen McClain’s trust, as she revealed in a statement.
After court, she expressed her grief and frustration saying, “Killer cops and their accomplices took away my son’s life. The justice system allows them to continue with their crimes.”
When McClain was walking home from a convenience store in Aurora, Officer Woodyard was the first to approach him. A 911 caller, who was only 17 years old, had reported McClain as suspicious. Despite the fact that McClain was wearing a mask, listening to music, and dancing as he walked, Officer Woodyard confronted him.
According to prosecutors, Woodyard did not take the time to introduce himself or explain why he wanted to talk to McClain before grabbing him within eight seconds of exiting his patrol car. McClain, who appeared to be taken aback, attempted to continue walking.
Jurors were told by Colorado Assistant Attorney General Jason Slothouber that Woodyard had made the decision to escalate the situation, despite McClain’s pleas. Furthermore, Woodyard had failed to adhere to the police department’s de-escalation policy.
Slothouber argued that Elijah McClain was simply walking home and enjoying himself by dancing along the way. When the defendant confronted him, he politely informed him that he was stopping the music to listen. Slothouber believes that there was no justification for the level of violence that ensued.
Throughout the weeks-long trial, the defendant’s lawyers emphasized that the officer had walked away from the nighttime confrontation after being called away by his supervisor. They argued that he was not present with McClain as his condition deteriorated, and that other officers were responsible for restraining him. Defense attorney Andrew Ho pointed out that Woodyard had entrusted McClain’s well-being to his fellow officer and the paramedics who administered the ketamine.
Ho advocates for the end of in-custody deaths, citing the prevalent violence in such situations. While acknowledging the significance of this issue, Ho argues that Nathan Woodyard should not be held responsible for the death of Elijah McClain. According to Ho, it was the administration of ketamine that ultimately led to McClain’s passing.
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