Officer acquitted in Elijah McClain’s death resigns from police department

Nathan Woodyard.

AURORA, Colo. — A Colorado officer acquitted in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain two months ago resigned from the Aurora Police Department on Friday.

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The resignation of Nathan Woodyard, 34, was confirmed on Tuesday by City of Aurora spokesperson Ryan Luby, KUSA-TV reported. Woodyard, who put McClain, 23, in a neck hold during the 2019 arrest, was acquitted by an Adams County jury on Nov. 6, 2023, of criminally negligent homicide and reckless manslaughter, according to The Denver Post.

Woodyard, who had been suspended without pay since his indictment in September 2021, requested to rejoin the police department after his acquittal and had been on personal leave, KUSA-TV reported.

City officials told KDVR-TV that Woodyard would be receiving $212,546.04 in back pay.

Woodyard was the first officer to come in contact with McClain after a 911 caller reported that the massage therapist, who was walking home wearing a mask and was dancing to music on the night of Aug. 24, 2019, appeared to be “sketchy,” The New York Times reported.

McClain was put in a neck hold by Woodyard, which cut off oxygen to his brain for a short time. He was injected with the sedative ketamine by paramedics, according to KDVR-TV. McClain went into cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital and was later declared brain dead, the Post reported. He died on Aug. 30, 2019.

A revised statement from the coroner said McClain died due to ketamine administration following forcible restraint.

Another former Aurora police officer at the scene that night, Randy Roedema, was sentenced on Jan. 5 to 14 months in prison on a third-degree assault charge, according to KUSA. He was given 90 days in jail and four years of probation for the criminally negligent homicide charge. He will only serve a total of 14 months. Roedema was fired after the verdict, the Post reported.

Officer Jason Rosenblatt, who like Woodyard was acquitted of criminal charges, was fired for responding “ha ha” in a text after seeing a photo of three officers reenacting the choke hold on McClain, according to the newspaper.

Aurora Fire Rescue paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec, who administered the ketamine to McClain, were found guilty in December of criminally negligent homicide, according to The Associated Press. Cichuniec was additionally found guilty of second-degree assault.