Former Colorado Police Officer Appeals Conviction in Black Man Elijah McClain’s Death

Former Colorado police Officer Randy Roedema speaks on his behalf during sentencing at the Adams County Court, Friday, Jan. 5, 2024, in Brighton, Colo. Roedema is appealing his conviction by a jury for his role in the death of Eljiah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who died after being stopped by police in a Denver suburb in 2019. (ABC News One via AP, Pool, File)


DENVER (AP) — A former Colorado police officer is appealing his conviction by a jury for his role in the death of Eljiah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who died after being stopped by police in a Denver suburb in 2019.

Lawyers for Randy Roedema filed a notice of appeal with the state appeals court on Wednesday.

A jury convicted Roedema last October of criminally negligent homicide, which is a felony, and misdemeanor third-degree assault. He was sentenced to 14 months in jail at a hearing last month in which McClain’s mother called him a “bully with a badge.”

McClain’s death received little attention in 2019 but gained renewed interest the following year as mass protests swept the nation over the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. It became a rallying cry for critics of racial injustice in policing.

McClain was stopped by police in Aurora as he walked home from a store while listening to music. At the time, he was wearing a face mask and a 911 caller reported he looked suspicious. Within seconds, another officer put his hands on McClain, beginning a struggle that lasted about 20 minutes before McClain was restrained and paramedics injected him with the powerful sedative ketamine.

The coroner’s office initally could not determine how McClain died, leading the local prosecutor to decide against bringing any criminal charges. But it updated the autopsy report in 2021, finding that McClain died of an overdose of ketamine after being forcibly restrained by police.

Roedema, who was fired from the Aurora Police Department after his conviction, was the only one of three police officers indicted in McClain’s death to be found guilty. The two others were acquitted. Two paramedics were convicted in December in the third trial and final trial of first responders in McClain’s death.

Roedema was tried with another officer, Jason Rosenblatt, and Roedema’s lawyers said the decision to join their trials together was among a list of issues they would be challenging. Another was whether his indictment should have been dismissed because of alleged errors in the instructions given to grand jurors. Other issues could still be raised when Roedema files an opening brief in the appeal, they said.

The state attorney general’s office, which prosecuted the case, had no comment on the appeal, spokesperson Lawrence Pacheco said.

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