Unfortunately, we can’t even pretend to be surprised by this verdict, but it doesn’t mean that we aren’t saddened, disappointed and angry.
Elijah McClain’s death at the hands of police officers and EMTs in Aurora, Colorado, on Aug. 24, 2019, became one of the canon events that lead to the historic protests in the summer of 2020. McClain was put in a chokehold and injected with ketamine after officers accosted him despite not accusing him of any crime.
According to AP, the officer who applied the carotid chokehold that rendered McClain unconscious, Nathan Woodyard, was acquitted Monday of both homicide and manslaughter. Woodyard’s acquittal makes him the second of three officers to dodge accountability and prison time for the 23-year-old’s egregious death.
Only officer Randy Roedema has been convicted of negligent homicide and assault.
Elijah’s mother Sheneen McClain (pictured above, left) reportedly sat in the very front row of the courtroom while the verdict was being read with a Black power fist held proudly in the air. Ms. McClain declined to comment on the decision as did Nathan Woodyard. However, a friend and supporter of Ms. McClain spoke to the media after court was adjourned.
“Her son should be alive, and everybody claims to agree with that, but for some reason we can’t hold to account the people that took that away,” said MiDian Holmes (pictured above, right), an activist who befriended Sheneen McClain after they met at a 2020 protest. “I think she understands and she recognizes that if she can feel, she can fight. This fight is not over for Sheneen McClain. She is going to turn this pain into promise and into progress.”
We can only hope that an appeal is in progress and that all the men and women responsible for a young Black man’s death will be held accountable.
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