One of the two officers involved in the death of Elijah McClain has been found guilty of homicide while the other was acquitted.
On Thursday (Oct. 12), Aurora, Colorado, police officer Randy Roedema, who was one of two officers who subdued the unarmed Black man Elijah McClain who was injected with ketamine by paramedics in 2019 was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide by the jury. Jason Rosenblatt, the other officer, was acquitted of all charges brought against him.
The split decision by the jury comes after a three-week trial and 16 days of jury deliberation taking place over three days. Roedema is slated to be sentenced Jan. 5, 2024. “This is the divided states of America, and that’s what happens,” said Sheneen McClain, Elijah’s mother, to the press after the verdicts were reached. “This is not a victory for me at all. This is not a victory for the human race. This is not justice,” she continued. “They have an eternal judgment that they have yet to see. And no matter how they try to clean up their slate, they still have my son’s blood on their hands.”
The 23-year-old was walking home on Aug. 24, 2019, when he was confronted by the officers who subdued him by placing him in a chokehold. McClain was then injected with ketamine by first responders on the scene. He died in the hospital days later. The incident, which was partially captured on police body camera footage, sparked outrage among the Black community in Aurora and gained national attention after the killing of George Floyd in 2020 revived interest in the case.
“Everyone in Colorado, everyone in the United States, no matter who you are, is accountable under the law. Hopefully, today’s verdict can be a sign for healing for the Aurora community and for our state,” said Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser after the verdict was announced. Roedema was suspended from the police force, and Rosenblatt would be fired in 2020 after mocking the massage therapist’s death along with other officers via text.
McClain’s death did spur the state to pass a new police accountability law, as well as to ban the use of chokeholds. The use of ketamine has also been restricted. Three more people – officer Nathan Woodyard and paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec are slated to go on trial in the coming weeks.