One Officer Found Guilty, One Acquitted In Elijah McClain’s Death

Randy Roedema was convicted on two charges, and Jason Rosenblatt was acquitted.

A Colorado jury split its decision in the death of Elijah McClain by convicting one police officer while acquitting the other, CBS News reports.

On Thursday (October 12) afternoon, a  jury of seven men and five women handed down a verdict after hearing testimonies during a three-week trial and deliberated for two days in Adams County.

Randy Roedema was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide and assault. Jason Rosenblatt was acquitted of all charges.

Roedema’s sentence hearing is scheduled for January 5.

On August 24, 2019, McClain was confronted by Aurora police officers as he was walking home with groceries while wearing the mask at the time. Although he was unarmed, police officers used two carotid control holds, which are designed to restrict blood flow to the brain, and they never checked for his vital signs. The officers ignored McClain when he said “I can’t breathe” as he vomited after the chokehold.

Jeremy Cooper and Lt. Peter Cichuniec, the EMTs who arrived on the scene,  injected McClain with ketamine to sedate him, which was later determined to exceed the limits of a therapeutic dosage.

After the potent drug was administered, McClain went into cardiac arrest and was declared brain dead. He died several days later, on August 30, 2019.

In 2021, a coroner's report revealed that McClain’s death was caused by the administration of ketamine. Also, the coroner’s report said that the carotid holds that the officers put McClain in could have been a factor in his death.

Closing Arguments To Begin In Manslaughter Trial Of Officers Charged In Elijah McClain’s Death

Following their fatal encounter with McClain, Rosenblatt was fired from the Aurora Police Department. Roedema and Nathan Woodyard, the third responding officer, have been suspended from the police force without pay.

Following the jury’s decision, Sheneen McClain, Elijah’s mother, expressed her dismay at the verdict.

“This is the divided states of America, and that’s what happens,” Sheneen McClain told reporters as she left the courtroom with one fist raised in the air.

In 2021, the McClain family was awarded a $15 Million settlement after filing a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court.

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser issued a statement in response to the jury’s decision.

"We are here today because Elijah McClain mattered. He was only 23 years old when he died, he had his whole life ahead of him. His mother Sheneen McClain has had to relive that night again and again over the last several years. I and those on our team, are deeply inspired by her. Her commitment and devotion to her son and justice," said Weiser’s statement. "She has been determined not to let anyone forget Elijah McClain, how he lived, and how he died. I thank Sheneen for her strength, for her grace, for her commitment to justice, and for her resilience during this process. Elijah McClain's memory is living on as  a blessing."

Those who pushed for police accountability in the aftermath of McClain’s death were stunned by the split conviction.

“How do you convict one and acquit the other? How can you call this justice?” said Candice Bailey, a community activist in Aurora who has led several demonstrations for police reform.

In the aftermath of McClain’s death, neck holds by law enforcement officers are now banned in the state of Colorado and new guidelines have been established to limit the use of ketamine in emergencies when a person is behaving erratically by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

While the trial of Roedema and Rosenblatt has concluded, two more trials are scheduled for officers involvement in McClain’s death.

Woodyard, whose trial begins on Friday (Oct. 13), will be tried separately because he was first on the scene and applied the hold. Cooper and Cichuniec, will be tried at a later date.

All five have pleaded not guilty to manslaughter, criminally negligent reckless homicide, and other charges.

Latest News

Subscribe for BET Updates

Provide your email address to receive our newsletter.

By clicking Subscribe, you confirm that you have read and agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge our Privacy Policy. You also agree to receive marketing communications, updates, special offers (including partner offers) and other information from BET and the Paramount family of companies. You understand that you can unsubscribe at any time.