2nd police officer acquitted in death of Elijah McClain, who was put in a neck hold, given ketamine

by Joshua Brown
Elijah McClain Verdict

Elijah McClain’s mother, Sheneen McClain, was seen wiping away tears as the not guilty verdict was announced for a second police officer implicated in her son’s death in 2019.

This outcome follows a sequence of trials where two out of three officers tried have been exonerated, leaving advocates for police reform and the McClain family continuing their quest for accountability. The incident, involving the 23-year-old African American man who died after being restrained in a neck hold and administered an excessive dose of ketamine by police, sparked a national conversation about racial disparities in law enforcement.

Officer Nathan Woodyard of Aurora, the officer who applied the neck restraint on McClain, was cleared of homicide and manslaughter charges by a jury after a trial lasting several weeks. Woodyard faced the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence if found guilty.

Sheneen McClain was present during the announcement of the verdict, symbolically raising her fist as she exited, much like she did following the previous month’s trial of two other officers. She chose not to make a statement at the time, though her sentiment was echoed by MiDian Holmes, an activist and ally, who labeled the jury’s decision as a disappointing indication that systemic changes within the justice system remain elusive.

Holmes remarked on the ongoing struggle, suggesting that Sheneen McClain’s sorrow would be transformed into a continued effort for change and justice.

In contrast to the acquitted officers, a third officer had been convicted on lesser charges in an earlier trial, and two emergency medical technicians are scheduled to be tried later. After his acquittal, Woodyard refrained from commenting, while his defense attorney Megan Downing affirmed their belief in the jury’s decision.

Attorney General Phil Weiser of Colorado reaffirmed the state’s commitment to pursuing justice for Elijah McClain, acknowledging the perseverance of Sheneen McClain in honoring her son’s memory.

Woodyard, who testified in his defense, argued that he used the neck hold on McClain because he felt his life was in jeopardy, citing McClain’s comments and another officer’s claim that McClain had reached for his gun.

While Woodyard’s defense argued that he was absent during the critical moments of McClain’s deteriorating condition, body camera evidence showed Woodyard disengaging for a part of the altercation.

The tragic case gained significant attention in the wake of George Floyd’s death in 2020, with McClain’s own words from the body camera footage resonating with many. Initially, no charges were brought due to an inconclusive autopsy report, but following a reinvestigation ordered by Governor Jared Polis and indictments by a grand jury, the case moved forward legally.

The deaths of McClain, Floyd, and others have spurred legislative action to limit neck restraints in several states and to adjust protocols for the administration of ketamine.

On the evening of August 24, 2019, McClain, who was wearing a ski mask and listening to music, was forcefully detained by police without any criminal accusation against him. The situation escalated when officers perceived a threat after claiming McClain attempted to grab one of their guns, an action not evident in the bodycam footage.

The use of the carotid control hold by Woodyard, a maneuver that cuts off blood flow to the brain to induce unconsciousness, was legal at the time but has since been outlawed in Colorado.

After McClain was subdued, paramedics injected him with ketamine, following which he suffered cardiac arrest and subsequently died days later in the hospital.

While Roedema, another officer involved, was convicted of minor charges earlier, the cases against all the officers highlighted discussions about culpability, with defense teams in both trials suggesting the responsibility lay partly with McClain or the paramedics.

In a civil suit, the city of Aurora settled with McClain’s family for $15 million in 2021, one of the largest settlements at the time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Elijah McClain Verdict

Who was Elijah McClain?

Elijah McClain was a 23-year-old Black man who died after an encounter with Aurora, Colorado, police in 2019, where he was restrained in a neck hold and injected with ketamine.

What was the outcome of the trial for the second officer involved in Elijah McClain’s case?

The second officer, Nathan Woodyard, who was involved in the incident, was acquitted of all charges, including homicide and manslaughter, by a jury after a weeks-long trial.

Has anyone been held accountable for Elijah McClain’s death?

Yes, one of the three officers faced conviction on lesser charges of negligent homicide and third-degree assault, while the other two officers have been acquitted. Additionally, two paramedics are awaiting trial.

What has been the reaction of Elijah McClain’s mother to the trial outcomes?

Elijah McClain’s mother, Sheneen McClain, has been visibly upset by the acquittals, symbolizing her continued fight for justice with a raised fist as she left the courtroom, and is determined to turn her pain into progress.

What changes have been made in response to Elijah McClain’s death?

Following Elijah McClain’s death and others, there has been a wave of legislation in several states limiting the use of neck restraints and revising protocols for administering ketamine. Colorado has banned the carotid control hold and advised against using ketamine for individuals with excited delirium.

More about Elijah McClain Verdict

You may also like


TrevorNoahFan November 7, 2023 - 11:22 am

I mean come on, even with the bodycam footage we’re still here with no justice? what’s the point of these cameras if they don’t help the victims?

Jason_guitar November 7, 2023 - 2:50 pm

saw the trial coverage all week, the defense had their say but i gotta wonder how they sleep at night knowing what happened to that young man

Mike Randal November 7, 2023 - 3:58 pm

just heard about the verdict, it’s really sad to see the system failing like this. what’s it gonna take for real change to happen?

KarenP November 7, 2023 - 6:52 pm

the whole thing is a mess, we talk about progress but then i see this, makes you question if anything’s really changed at all

Sarah T. November 8, 2023 - 4:15 am

Elijah’s story keeps getting to me, can’t believe the officers are walking free? Where is the justice… his poor family.


Leave a Comment


BNB – Big Big News is a news portal that offers the latest news from around the world. BNB – Big Big News focuses on providing readers with the most up-to-date information from the U.S. and abroad, covering a wide range of topics, including politics, sports, entertainment, business, health, and more.

Editors' Picks

Latest News

© 2023 BBN – Big Big News