Suspended Aurora officer found guilty of homicide, assault charges
DENVER (KDVR) — A jury has returned a split verdict in the case against two Aurora police officers charged with Elijah McClain’s death in 2019.
One officer, Randy Roedema, was found guilty of criminally negligent reckless homicide and third-degree assault.
The other officer, Jason Rosenblatt, was acquitted of all charges.
Sentencing for Roedema is scheduled for Jan. 5 at 1:30 p.m.
Roedema has been on suspension from the Aurora Police Department during the investigation while Rosenblatt had been fired by the department.
Aurora Police Chief Art Acevedo released the following statement on X, formerly known as Twitter:
“I know many have been waiting a long time for the involved parties to have their day in court. As a nation, we must be committed to the rule of law. As such, we hold the American judicial process in high regard. We respect the verdict handed down by the jury, and thank the members of the jury for their thoughtful deliberation and service. Due to the additional pending trials, the Aurora Police Department is precluded from further comment at this time.”
Leaders of the City of Aurora also issued statements, excerpts of which include:
“I know there are deep feelings about Elijah McClain and that today’s verdict will elicit a range of emotions across the community. Irrespective of the outcome of the trial and the remaining two trials, Mr. McClain’s death was tragic and had a profound impact on all of us,” Interim City Manager Jason Batchelor said. “I have stood alongside city employees and community members over the last four years in championing meaningful, measured public safety changes while simultaneously supporting our dedicated police officers and firefighters who work tirelessly to keep our community safe. None of that work will change.”
“Until all the trials related to the death of Elijah McClain are ruled, Aurora Fire Rescue owes it to all the defendants to withhold our comments about individual case outcomes to ensure that we do not compromise their right to a fair trial,” Aurora Fire Rescue Chief Alec Oughton said in part. “What we will share at this time is our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone impacted by this event. The stress they have suffered over the past four years as they seek healing and closure is unimaginable.”
The two officers were charged, along with three others, in 2021 after protests over the death of George Floyd spurred Gov. Jared Polis to direct the state’s attorney general, Philip Weiser, to open a new investigation into McClain’s death.
On Aug. 24, 2019, officers stopped McClain while he was walking home from a convenience store. A 911 caller reported McClain, who was wearing a runner’s mask and jacket and listening to music, and said he seemed “sketchy.”
Three officers approached McClain after he left the store and the situation quickly escalated. McClain was put in a neck hold by officers and pinned to the ground before he was injected with the sedative ketamine by paramedics.
Prosecution witnesses testified that the ketamine was what killed McClain.
However, prosecutors also offered medical testimony that the restraint by Roedema and Rosenblatt triggered a number of health problems that made it difficult for him to breathe and contributed to the fatal overdose.
Defense attorneys argued that actions by the officers did not cause McClain’s death.
What happens next?
A third officer, Nathan Woodyard, was also charged in McClain’s death. His trial begins Friday.
Two paramedics, Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec, are also charged in McClain’s death. Their trial is slated to begin in November.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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