Two police officers, a former officer and two paramedics will face charges in the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who was detained, placed in a chokehold and given a powerful sedative during a confrontation with Aurora, Col., police in 2019.
According to NBC News, the grand jury indictment comes after an eight-month investigation convened by Colorado’s top prosecutor. On Wednesday (September 1), State Attorney General Phil Weiser said the five defendants will each be charged with one count of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, as well as other charges in the 32-count indictment.
Named in the indictment are officers Nathan Woodyard and Randy Roedema and former officer Jason Rosenblatt. Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec are the paramedics.
Upon learning of the indictment, McClain’s father, LaWayne Mosley, said he cried tears of joy.
“Nothing will bring back my son, but I am thankful that his killers will finally be held accountable,” Mosley said in a statement, according to NBC News.
McClain’s death set off months of protests by activists, which turned into national demonstrations calling for systemic changes in policing. Similar to George Floyd’s May 2020 death by police, McClain told police “I can’t breathe,” a phrase that has since become a familiar rallying message against police brutality.
McClain was reportedly walking home from a convenience store on August 24, 2019, when police responded to a call of 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 to sedate him.
Body camera footage shows McClain being wrestled to the ground, vomiting, crying and gasping for air as police detained him. Three days later, he was declared brain dead and an autopsy was found inconclusive.