An Adams County Judge has found enough evidence to pursue the former Aurora police officers and paramedics charged in 23-year-old Elijah McClain’s death.
Adams County District Court Judge Priscilla Loew announced that evidence against the former officers–Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt and Randy Roedema–and former paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec is strong enough to pursue criminal cases.
“There is sufficient evidence to establish probable cause for each of the counts listed in the grand jury indictment,” Loew said.
Court documents indicated that her decision arrived after the five men’s attorneys requested that she review their cases, arguing that there wasn’t enough evidence to support the charges against their clients.
In 2021, a grand jury indicted Woodyard, Rosenblatt Roedema, Cooper and Cichuniec on a combined 32 counts in connection to McClain’s death, including manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. Roedema and Rosenblatt also each face a charge of second-degree assault with intent to cause bodily injury and one count of a crime of violence related to the assault charge. In contrast, Cooper and Cichuniec additionally each face three counts of second-degree assault.
Two years prior, in August 2019, McClain died after a hostile police encounter in his hometown. He was reportedly walking home from a convenience store when officers confronted him, as a passerby previously made a 911 call reporting that they saw someone “sketchy” in the area. Officers then put the young man in a carotid chokehold, and when paramedics arrived at the scene, they administered 500 milligrams of ketamine to him. He suffered from cardiac arrest on his way to the hospital and died three days later.
Body camera footage revealed McClain saying, “I can’t breathe,” as police held him down.
In November 2021, the city of Aurora reportedly agreed to pay $15 million to his family after they filed a civil rights lawsuit. Despite the reward, a representative for his mother, Sheneen McClain, released a statement saying “nothing” would fill the void of her late son.
“While nothing will fill that void, Ms. McClain is hopeful that badly needed reforms to the Aurora Police Department will spare other parents the same heartache,” the statement said.