Former officers, paramedics charged in Elijah McClain’s death appear in court

McClain's mother, Sheneen McClain, also appeared in court Monday.

The three police officers and two paramedics charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain made their first court appearance Monday

Police officers Nathan Woodyard and Randy Roedema, former officer Jason Rosenblatt, and paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec all came before District Court Judge Priscilla Loew. Each defendant waived the right to have their charges read aloud in court. None spoke during the hearing.

Elijah McClain
(Photo: The McClain family)

McClain’s mother, Sheneen McClain, attended the 30-minute proceeding.

“The main thought that I had was can they even look at me? They couldn’t,” she said, noting that it was the first time she was in the same room as the men charged for the death of her son. They can’t look the mother in the eye. They should all be ashamed of themselves.”

Elijah, 23, died after authorities in Aurora, Colo., restrained him with a chokehold during an encounter in which he was walking home from a convenience store. Someone dialed 911, claiming he “looked sketchy.” He was allegedly wearing a ski mask and waving his arms.

Police claim they struggled to handcuff Elijah, using a carotid hold to bring him to the ground. The hold is known to restrict blood to the brain, which causes unconsciousness. It has since been banned in Colorado

Paramedics arrived 15 minutes later and injected Elijah with ketamine, a sedative. He suffered cardiac arrest and died days later in a local hospital. 

In September, all five men were indicted in connection with McClain’s death, with a combined 32 counts. Following the indictment, they each turned themselves in and each posted $10,000 bail. 

Rally Held In Colorado Demanding Justice For Elijah McClain
People shut down I-225 in both directions as they demand justice for Elijah McClain on June 27, 2020 in Aurora, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

Attorneys representing Cooper and Cichuniec requested to hide or redact certain information from their cases. Per the report, a judge suppressed the two cases, hiding them from public view. However, Loew made it known that she does not intend to keep the cases hidden from public view, intending to unlock them on Nov. 11, which gives defense attorneys and prosecutors time to remove personal information from the files. 

The paramedics’ attorneys agreed that the file should be permanently suppressed, but wish to protect their clients’ addresses and contact information. All defendants are scheduled to appear in court for their plea arraignments on Jan. 7. Sheneen vows to be present for each court hearing.

“That’s the least I can do for Elijah,” she told the press. “What he had to endure, nobody should have to endure.”

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