A jury convicted a Denver-area police officer of homicide Thursday and acquitted another of all charges in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man placed in a neck hold, pinned to the ground, and injected with ketamine.
Aurora police officer Randy Roedema was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide and third-degree assault by the 12-person jury. He faces up to three years in prison for the more serious homicide charge. They found officer Jason Rosenblatt not guilty, CNN reports.
The jury reached this verdict after deliberating for 16 hours over three days.
Elijah McClain’s mother, Sheneen McClain, expressed her disappointment with the verdict, stating, “This is not justice.” She doesn’t believe that Roedema’s guilty verdict is enough nor that the officer was acting alone in the events that led to her son’s death.
“This is not a victory for me at all. This is not a victory for the human race. This is not justice,” Sheneen McClain told local Denver TV station KUSA. “They have an eternal judgment that they have yet to see. And no matter how they try to clean up their slate, they still have my son’s blood on their hands.”
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser hopes that the verdict can aid in the healing process for the community. “Everyone in Colorado, everyone in the United States, no matter who you are, is accountable under the law. Hopefully, today’s verdict can be a sign for healing for the Aurora community and for our state,” Weiser said.
Throughout the trial, prosecutors argued that Roedema and Rosenblatt used excessive force, did not follow their training, and misled paramedics about Elijah McClain’s health status. They claimed that the officers consistently chose force over de-escalation.
On the other hand, defense attorneys shifted blame onto the paramedics and Elijah McClain himself. Both Roedema and Rosenblatt had pleaded not guilty to charges of reckless manslaughter and assault in connection with Elijah McClain’s death. Rosenblatt was fired by the police department in 2020. Roedema remains suspended from duty.