Two officers involved in the death of Elijah McClain have already received mixed verdicts in a recent trial. Randy Roedema was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and assault, while Jason Rosenblatt was acquitted of all charges. Roedema was subsequently fired following his conviction.
Now, Aurora, #Colorado, #police officer Nathan Woodyard has pleaded not guilty to reckless manslaughter and a lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide, becoming the third officer to be tried in connection with McClain's death. Prosecutor Ann Joyce asserted that Woodyard's actions during the 2019 incident had a "cataclysmic effect" on the young man.
Joyce emphasized that Woodyard and fellow officers failed to listen to McClain's pleas, disregarding his cries of "I can't breathe" and his distress. Woodyard used a carotid hold, rendering McClain unconscious, according to the indictment. Even when McClain regained consciousness, he was restrained on the ground despite his repeated pleas.
The defense, represented by attorney Megan Downing, argued that none of Woodyard's actions, including the carotid hold, caused McClain's death. Downing contended that McClain was alive when Woodyard's interactions with him ceased and that the real cause of death was a lethal injection of ketamine. The defense further claimed that Woodyard's use of the carotid hold was an attempt to de-escalate the situation.
Woodyard's trial is expected to include similar witnesses and arguments as the previous trial. The case drew renewed attention in 2020, leading to charges against the officers and changes in police policy, including a ban on carotid holds. Two paramedics who treated McClain are also set to go on trial.
As the trial of Aurora police officer Nathan Woodyard unfolds, it casts a stark light on the deeply entrenched issues with the system. We will continue to follow this story as more details come out.