A jury has reached a split verdict in the trial of two Colorado officers who arrested Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who died in 2019 after being restrained by police and injected with ketamine by paramedics.
The split verdict was reached on Thursday (October 12). The jury found Randy Roedema guilty of criminally negligent homicide and third-degree assault, while Jason Rosenblatt was found not guilty of manslaughter and assault.
The former officers each faced charges, including reckless manslaughter, which they pled not guilty to. Prosecutors argued on Tuesday (October 10) that the two used excessive force, failed to follow their training, and misled paramedics about McClain’s health status.
“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 in court.
The case stems from McClain’s arrest on August 24, 2019, which occurred as officers were responding to a report of a “suspicious person” wearing a ski mask. Officers confronted McClain while he was walking home from a convenience store carrying a bag with iced tea.
Body camera footage shows officers wrestled McClain to the ground and put him in a carotid hold. Paramedics later arrived and injected him with ketamine, a powerful sedative.
On his way to the hospital, McClain suffered a heart attack and was pronounced dead three days later.
Defense attorneys for Roedema and Rosenblatt blamed paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec, who are facing a joint trial in November, for McClain’s death, saying they were responsible for evaluating his medical condition. Attorneys also argued that paramedics injected McClain with a ketamine dose too large for his size.
In a rebuttal, prosecutor Jason Slothouber said the officers failed to protect McClain’s airway, which allowed him to become hypoxic and then acidotic, making the ketamine lethal.
Sentencing for Roedema is scheduled for January 5 at 1:30 p.m. in Adams County Court.
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