Former police officer sentenced in death of Elijah McClain

Former police officer sentenced in death of Elijah McClain

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Randy Roedema, a former Aurora, Colo., police officer, has been sentenced to 14 months of jail with work release and four years of probation after being convicted of criminally negligent homicide and third-degree assault in the death of Elijah McClain.

Roedema was sentenced on Friday by Adams County District Judge Mark Warner. Roedema, who was convicted Oct. 13, had pleaded not guilty to the charges. The maximum sentence the former officer faced was six years in prison. He could have also been sentenced to probation only. Roedema will serve his sentence in a county facility rather than state facility. 

Warner on Friday said his decision was influenced by the indifference shown by the officer but also his “good character.” He said he believed Roedema had “rehabilitative potential.”

But, Warner added, McClain “really wasn’t much of a threat to anybody” when he’d been killed.

Sheneen McClain, McClain’s mother, called Roedema “a bully with a badge.”

“That night, on Aug. 24 2019, protecting our community was the furthest thing from Randy Roedema’s mind,” she told the court.

McClain, a 23-year-old Black man, was walking home when a 911 caller told police they had seen a “sketchy” person in the area. When three officers — Roedema, Nathan Woodyard and Jason Rosenblatt — arrived on scene, they approached McClain, who was unarmed and wearing a ski mask. His family said the mask was to help with his anemia.

Body camera footage showed that when officers approached McClain, they said they had a right to stop him for “being suspicious.”

McClain responded that he was going home and had “a right to go where I am going.”

Roedema alleged McClain had reached for Rosenblatt’s gun during an ensuing struggle, though prosecutors questioned this assertion during trial. 

The officers wrestled McClain to the ground and handcuffed him. Body camera footage appeared to show Roedema picking McClain up and slamming him back to the ground.

When paramedics arrived on the scene, the 5-foot-7, 140-pound McClain was injected with enough ketamine to sedate a 190-pound man, according to an independent probe. 

An autopsy found that McClain died at the hospital on Aug. 30 from ketamine toxicity.

Prosecutors had asked for Roedema to face three years behind bars, while the defense had asked for probation only.

Roedema, a Marine veteran, said in court that he still grieves McClain’s death.

“I want the McClain family to know the sadness I feel about Elijah being gone,” Roedema said. “He was young.”

“I often think about what happened on that evening Elijah was taken to the hospital,” he said. “I cannot help but to contemplate all the different scenarios that could have taken place that evening that may have resulted in a different outcome.”

Woodyard was acquitted on Nov. 6 on charges of reckless manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. Suspended after his indictment, Woodyard has since returned to work.

Two paramedics — Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec — have also been convicted for their roles in McClain’s death. Cooper was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide but acquitted of assault charges in December. Cichuniec was also convicted of criminally negligent homicide, as well as second-degree unlawful administration of drugs. He also was convicted of a sentence enhancement charge, which automatically requires prison time. 

Both Cichuniec and Cooper are scheduled for sentencing on March 1.

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