‘Someone Who Mattered’: Justice Still Lingers for Elijah McClain’s Family As Cop Who Held Him In Chokehold Faces Trial

A Colorado jury found a police officer guilty of criminally negligent homicide and assault but acquitted another officer in the case of an unarmed Black man, Elijah McClain, on Thursday, but it is not the end of the longstanding quest for justice for the man’s family.

The 12-member jury determined the fate of Aurora, Colorado, officer Randy Roedema and former officer Jason Rosenblatt, but jury selection starts Friday in the trial for the officer who held McClain in the deadly chokehold.

Elijah McClain died on Aug. 30, 2019, after being restrained by Aurora Police officers. (Photo: GoFundMe)

“They were trained. They were told what to do. They were given instructions. They had opportunities, and they failed to choose to de-escalate violence when they needed to, they failed to listen to Mr. McClain when they needed to, and they failed Mr. McClain,” prosecutor Duane Lyons said to the jurors in his final statements about the Aug. 24, 2019, death, according to CNN.

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He punctuated his remarks, saying, “His name was Elijah McClain. He was going home. He was someone who mattered.”

Donald Sisson, attorney for Roedema, had urged the jurors to weigh the fact that his client and his partner were law enforcement officers.

He stated, “If they don’t act, they may not go home to their family that night,” as reported by ABC News.

Harvey Steinberg, representing Rosenblatt, who was fired by the department in 2020, argued that his client was unjustly targeted and was not involved in McClain’s death, particularly because it was the paramedics who administered the ketamine, the drug responsible for the fatality.

Both defense attorneys argued that the use of force was justified because they were in a “high crime area,” and after the young man grabbed Rosenblatt’s gun, the officers were left with “no choice but to take action.” 

As the defense meticulously tried to unravel the prosecution’s case, they noted that the opposing side was trying to pull the heartstrings of the jurors.

“Just because there is a tragedy does not mean there is criminality,” Sission insisted, according to AXIOS.

Roedema and Rosenblatt are the initial two of five first responders facing trial for the death of McClain.

The third Aurora officer, Nathan Woodyard, is set to go on trial on Oct. 13. His trial is separate because he is the one who put McClain in a carotid hold and caused him to fall temporarily unconscious. The particular neck hold is a focal point of the trial as supporting evidence for the prosecution to prove the use of excessive force.

Dr. Roger Mitchell, a former Washington, D.C., chief medical officer and professor at Howard University’s medical school, testified during the trial that the hold lowered oxygen levels in the young man’s brain. Simultaneously, his physical struggle during the altercation raised the level of acid in his body.

This combination of reduced oxygen and heightened acid formed a detrimental cycle, causing McClain to vomit and subsequently aspirate the vomit into his lungs, making it difficult for him to breathe.

Paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec, who actually injected McClain with the drug that would ultimately claim his life, are scheduled for trial in November.

Read the original story here.

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