Many first responders across the country, who have been initially cleared from any wrongdoing in shooting cases, are now being taken in front of grand juries and indicted. In Colorado, two officers, a former officer, and two paramedics were indicted on various charges for the death of 23-year-old Elijah McClain in 2019.
Re-Opening An Investigation
According to NBC News, the five first responders were charged with multiple charges. One charge Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser levied against them was manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.
The first responders who were indicted were Officers Nathan Woodyard, Randy Roesema, Jason Rosenblatt, and paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis used an executive order to push the investigation into McClain’s death. Polis gave a statement saying, “Elijah McClain should be alive today, and we owe it to his family to take this step and elevate the pursuit of justice in his name to a statewide concern.”
Officers approach McClain to talk, but he would not follow orders and began to resist officers. They employed the use of a “carotid control hold.” When paramedics arrived, they administered 500 mg of ketamine to sedate him. McClain had a heart attack on the way to the hospital and died three days later.
Dave Young, the 17th Judicial District Attorney, said in a statement that he could not prove beyond doubt that “officers involved in this incident were not justified in their actions” with the information they had on hand at the time. However, McClain’s death could have been avoided.
Officer Roedema and former Officer Rosenblatt were indicted on one count of intent to cause bodily injury and one count of a crime of violence.
The paramedic’s Cooper and Cichuniec are charged with one count of second-degree assault with intent to cause bodily injury, one count of second-degree assault for recklessly causing serious bodily injury using a deadly weapon via the ketamine, and one count of second-degree assault for a purpose other than lawful medical or therapeutic treatment.
Though the first investigation turned up no wrongdoing, activists pushed for McClain’s case to be reopened. The governor caved to the activist’s demands and put the attorney general on the case.
The Aurora first responders are yet another example of officers and paramedics following their training and department policy yet getting prosecuted for it, even though they were previously cleared.