A jury convicted one of two police officers on trial for the negligent homicide of Elijah McClain, a black man who was held in a chokehold and given an overdose of a sedative.
Randy Roedema, a former police officer in Aurora, Colorado, was found guilty of negligent homicide and assault for the death of an unarmed black man in his custody.
A second indicted officer, Jason Rosenblatt, was simultaneously found not guilty for the same incident.
McClain, 23, was stopped by police while walking home from a convenience store in August 2019. The officers were responding to a call about a ‘sketchy’ person wearing a ski mask.
Although McClain was not suspected of committing a crime, Roedema and Rosenblatt pinned him to the ground, where he allegedly started vomiting.
The officers called in paramedics, who gave McClain a 500mg dosage of ketamine before attempting to transport him to the hospital.
McClain went into cardiac arrest in the ambulance, and was declared brain dead three days after the arrest.
Local prosecutors did not press charges immediately after McClain’s death, but Colorado Governor Jared Polis ordered his state’s attorney general to take a second look at the case after the death of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests.
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser eventually indicted three police officers and two paramedics for McClain’s death. Roedema and Rosenblatt are the first to go to trial.
A trial for the third officer, Nathan Woodyard, is scheduled to begin on Friday.
At trial, jurors were shown body-worn camera footage from Roedema, where they analyzed the conduct of the
In the video, McClain could be heard telling the officers he couldn’t breathe at least six times. He could also be heard shouting ‘I’m an introvert and I’m different.’
Defense attorneys for the officers argued that McClain’s death was caused by the ketamine dosage. However, prosecutors successfully argued that Roedema’s restraint also contributed to his death.
They also claimed that Roedema did not inform the paramedics that McClain was having trouble breathing – a factor that would make influenced their decision to administer the sedative.
The defense also argued McClain reached for Roedema’s gun – a claim that prosecutors disputed.
Roedema was found guilty after a jury deliberated for about 16 hours. He face up to three years in prison.
McClain’s mother, Sheneen McClain, attended the trial and expressed disappointment in the verdict.
‘I’m disappointed because despite all the evidence in front of their face, they still played the race card,’ McClain told 9News in Colorado. ‘Right is right, and wrong is wrong. And when you continue to allow the type of injustice that happened to my son, there is so much to work on.’
‘This is the divided states of America, and that’s what happens,’ the grieving mother told reporters outside the courthouse. ‘That’s it. I’m out. I’m pissed.’
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