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Elijah McClain case: Charges reduced for 2 officers in McClain's death

One Aurora Police officer and one former officer charged in the death of Elijah McClain have had their charges modified.

AURORA, Colo. — Two officers who are charged in the death of Elijah McClain had their charges reduced by the Colorado Attorney General's Office on Friday, according to court records.

Former Aurora Police Officer Jason Rosenblatt and current Officer Randy Roedema had sentence enhancing charges dismissed by the Attorney General's Office, records show. The enhancements only affect a possible sentence for the 2nd-degree assault charges, 9NEWS legal analyst Scott Robinson explained.

“The prosecutors may believe that they’re simplifying their case that they’re going to present to the jurors," Robinson said. "After all, it’s a relatively complex case for both the paramedics and the police officers involved."

Roedema and Rosenblatt would have had to be convicted of assault before the enhancer came into play. Robinson said he didn't think the dropped charge signals anything relating to a plea deal.

"Since these charges were dismissed without any kind of plea agreement being filed, it’s not an indication necessarily that there’s some sort of plea bargain in the works," Robinson said. "It's possible, but typically a dismissal of some charges is part of a sentence agreement, a plea bargain."

On Aug. 24, 2019, Aurora Police Department (APD) officers contacted McClain while he was walking home from a convenience store where he'd gone to pick up a drink. Three days later, on Aug. 27, he died at a hospital of undetermined causes, according to the Adams County Coroner's Office.

In December 2020, the Colorado Attorney General launched a grand jury investigation during which medical experts testified that it was a ketamine injection by paramedics that killed McClain.

Rosenblatt, Roedema and current Aurora Police Officer Nathan Woodyard were arrested in September 2021 after the statewide grand jury returned a 32-count indictment against them.

Aurora Fire Rescue (AFR) paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec were also indicted.

Each of the five people indicted faced one count of manslaughter and one count of criminally negligent homicide.

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Last fall, the Adams County Coroner's Office released an amended autopsy report that lists McClain's cause of death as complications from ketamine administration following "forcible arrest."

It also indicates that there's "no evidence" that injuries inflicted by police during his arrest contributed to his death. During the officers' contact with McClain, the officers threw him to the ground and put him into a carotid hold, according to the indictment.

Despite that, the amended report says there's no "evidence of trauma or lethal asphyxiation during restraint sufficient to cause death."

The initial report listed McClain's cause and manner of death as "undetermined." McClain's manner of death remains "undetermined" in the amended report.


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