The three Colorado police officers involved in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain have been reassigned to “nonenforcement” duties.
Authorities say officers Nathan Woodyard and Jason Rosenblatt were reassigned on June 13, while officer Randy Roedema received reassignment a week later. The new duties involve deskwork, according to KDVR.
Faith Goodrich, spokeswoman for the Aurora Police Department, says the primary reason for the move stems from the complaints they’ve received. “This was done in an effort to protect those officers,” she told 9News.
Interest in McClain’s case received new attention following the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, among others, and the national protest that has followed.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis announced his office would reexamine the case almost a year after McClain’s family first called for answers over his death. Attorney General Phil Weiser will investigate the death while Aurora officials are planning a separate investigation into the actions of first responders in the case.
"Last year, we stood on the municipal center steps demanding an investigation and what did we hear then? Crickets," Mari Newman, an attorney for the McClain family, said, according to KDVR. "Why did it take almost a year, international media attention, millions of people signing a petition for a responsible adult to finally step up and do what should have happened right from the outset?"
Elijah McClain was killed on August 24, 2019 after someone called 911 to report a “suspicious man” with a ski mask. Officers detained McClain by placing him in a chokehold. Paramedics arrived on the scene and injected him with a large dosage of ketamine for the purpose of sedating him.
Body camera footage shows McClain being wrestled to the ground, vomiting, crying and gasping the all too familiar cry, “I can’t breathe,” USA Today reports. An officer on the scene even says, “if you keep messing around, I’m going to bring my dog out and he’s going to bite you."
According to police, in an ambulance one of the paramedics said that McClain was not breathing and had no pulse. Three days later, he was declared brain dead and an autopsy as to the cause of his death was found inconclusive.
Photo: JONATHAN CASTNER/AFP via Getty Images