Aurora officers, paramedics charged in Elijah McClain’s death plead not guilty

The three Aurora police officers and two paramedics charged in Elijah McClain‘s death pleaded not guilty in Adams County court Friday afternoon as the case progresses toward trial.

Officers Nathan Woodyard and Randy Roedema, former officer Jason Rosenblatt and paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Lt. Peter Cichuniec face 32 combined counts related to McClain’s violent arrest and death in August 2019.

A district court judge this week separated the proceedings for the five men into three distinct trials, each expected to last three weeks.

Roedema and Rosenblatt, who assisted in McClain’s arrest, will be tried together, with the judge setting that trial to begin July 11.

The paramedics, who injected the 23-year-old with the powerful sedative ketamine, will be tried in tandem during a trial set for Aug. 7.

And Woodyard, who put McClain in the chokehold that caused him to lose consciousness, had his trial set for Sept. 18.

All five face charges of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, among other counts.

Then-Adams County District Attorney Dave Young declined to prosecute the officers and paramedics involved in McClain’s death after the incident.

But the 23-year-old became a rallying cry for racial justice protesters across America, prompting Gov. Jared Polis to tap the state’s attorney general to take another look at the case. Phil Weiser, a Democrat, convened a grand jury, which delivered an indictment in September 2021 charging the five responders.

An Adams County judge in July ruled prosecutors presented enough evidence for the charges for the case to move forward.

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