Aurora Officer Acquitted of Manslaughter in Elijah McClain’s Death

Andy Cross/Getty
Andy Cross/Getty

A suspended Aurora, Colorado officer was acquitted of reckless manslaughter and negligent homicide charges on Monday in relation to the 2019 death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who died after he was pinned in a carotid hold by police and injected with the sedative ketamine by paramedics. According to KDVR, the trial centered around the exact cause of McClain’s death as the Adams County Coroner’s Office ruled it as “undetermined.” Nathan Woodyard, the officer, blamed the medical team, but the prosecution called on a pulmonologist, who testified that McClain was held in a way such that he couldn’t breathe, causing him to choke on his vomit before the ketamine injection. Prosecutors allege that Woodyard grabbed McClain within seconds of coming into contact with him, escalating the situation. KDVR reported that the carotid hold is now prohibited in the Aurora Police Department, but officers were trained to use it back in 2019.

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