AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — Elijah McClain’s mother says she slept better last night than she has in a long time after learning the police officers and paramedics connected to her son’s 2019 death would be facing manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges.
“Two years afterwards, justice is being served. Elijah is getting his justice,” said Sheneen McClain.
McClain received a courtesy phone call ahead of Wednesday morning’s public announcement that three current and former Aurora police officers, Nathan Woodyard, Randy Roedema, and Jason Rosenblatt, and two paramedics, Pete Cichuniec and Jeremy Cooper, would be facing charges for the August 2019 incident.
Police used a carotid control hold on Elijah and paramedics sedated him with ketamine before he went into cardiac arrest and later died.
In November 2019, the district attorney chose not to file any criminal charges in the case, but the attorney general picked up the case in June 2020 as a result of the governor’s executive order.
Weiser announced, in January 2021, that a state grand jury would investigate the case.
The grand jury, which heard evidence presented by Weiser and completed its investigation last week, returned a 32-count indictment.
In addition to manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges, all but Woodyard are also facing second-degree assault and crime of violence counts.
“It means that moving forward, law enforcement and paramedics are going to have to be more humane with people because Elijah believed in humanity. He respected them in ways that they didn’t even give him credit for,” she said. “He had more humanity in his finger than they have in their whole body. So, it’s important that law enforcement and the paramedics do better jobs.”
“The attorney general’s office has been very diligent in their investigation,” said Qusair Mohamedbhai, McClain’s attorney. “The tragedy of (Elijah’s) death has really taken over our community and his love and light has permeated through the whole situation. It’s great that the grand jury got to the truth of the matter.”
“I’m grateful to Attorney General Weiser and his team. I’m grateful for the grand jury for sitting through all that evidence because it was hard for me to watch as his mom, but I’m grateful for their evidence and their findings,” said McClain.
McClain told the Problem Solvers her son prepared her for the news of the indictment.
“Elijah already knew. I talk to him all the time,” she said. “’You got this. You got this.’ That’s basically what I hear him saying.”