This could be the beginning of justice, but meaningful police reform is still stalled in Congress.
A Colorado grand jury has charged three cops and two paramedics in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who was stopped while walking home and died days after his encounter with the authorities. “Nothing will bring back my son, but I am thankful that his killers will finally be held accountable,” said McClain’s father, LaWayne Mosely.
What happened to Elijah McClain?
After a 911 call saying he “looked sketchy,” officers put McClain in a chokehold against his pleas, and paramedics injected him with a powerful sedative before he suffered cardiac arrest and was declared brain dead. He was removed from life support and died on Aug. 30, 2019.
What are the new charges against the officers involved in Elijah McClain’s death?
As part of a 32-count indictment, Aurora Police Department officers Randy Roedema, Nathan Woodyard, and former officer Jason Rosenblatt were each charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. Paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec also were indicted on the same charges.
Why did it take so long?
A county district attorney had initially declined to bring criminal charges against those involved because he believed there wasn’t enough evidence. But after the police killing of George Floyd brought renewed attention to the case in 2020, Colorado’s governor opened a grand jury investigation into McClain’s death.
Is there still hope for any meaningful police reform?
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act remains stalled in Congress, but bipartisan negotiators are now considering a slimmed-down version of the bill that would accomplish the pieces of police reform that already have consensus, such as limits on chokeholds. But it lacks a key component advocated by civil rights groups: ending qualified immunity for police officers that limits lawsuits against them. Stay tuned.