A Colorado grand jury returned a 32-count indictment against police officers and paramedics in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man.
Driving the news: The grand jury charged each of the three officers and two paramedics with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, the state’s attorney general announced Wednesday.
Why it matters: McClain's death drew renewed attention and a national profile last summer as the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum in the wake of George Floyd's May 2020 murder.
- Aurora police had no legal basis to stop McClain, an investigation found, and their use of a chokehold later led state lawmakers to ban law enforcement from using the restraint technique.
Catch up quick: McClain, a massage therapist, pleaded with officers to release him after being stopped and restrained without legal cause, telling them, "Let go of me. I am an introvert. Please respect my boundaries that I am speaking."
- Officers put McClain in a chokehold and paramedics injected him with 500 milligrams of ketamine in suburban Denver before he suffered cardiac arrest and was eventually declared brain dead.
- He was taken off life support on Aug. 30, 2019.
Between the lines: The grand jury's decision, finalized Aug. 26, came 14 months after Colorado Gov. Jared Polis called for state Attorney General Phil Weiser to investigate the death and appointed Weiser as a special prosecutor.
- The unprecedented move came after the local district attorney reviewed the case and determined no charges could be filed against the police or paramedics.
- In January, Weiser tasked the Denver-based grand jury with examining the case. He has faced increasing pressure in recent weeks to issue a report.
What they’re saying: Weiser acknowledged the difficult task ahead. "Make no mistake, we recognize that this case will be difficult to prosecute," he said at a briefing. "These types of cases always are."
- McClain’s mother, Sheneen McClain, told the Colorado Sun that she's "grateful that my son is going to have his justice."
- The Aurora police association's board of directors issued a statement that said its officers "did nothing wrong" and argued that "there is no evidence that APD officers caused his death."
Details: The Aurora police officers indicted are Nathan Woodyard, Randy Roedema and Jason Rosenblatt, who was fired from the department a year ago.
- In addition to the manslaughter and homicide counts, Roedema and Rosenblatt each face a charge of second-degree assault and one count of violence related to the assault.
- The two paramedics face three second-degree assault charges related to the ketamine dose and two counts of violence related to the assault.
What’s next: A separate investigation into the Aurora police and fire department’s practices remains ongoing, the attorney general said.
- Federal authorities also have said they are looking at the matter.
More Denver stories
No stories could be found
Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Denver.