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Aurora police officer on trial for death of Elijah McClain takes stand

Aurora police officer on trial for death of Elijah McClain takes stand
Aurora police officer on trial for death of Elijah McClain takes stand 02:27

An Aurora Police officer on trial for the death of Elijah McClain took the stand on Wednesday. Suspended Officer Nathan Woodyard is charged with reckless manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.  

The prosecution finished with its final witness on Friday.

Woodyard testified for nearly three hours Wednesday afternoon, recalling the events that occurred on Aug. 24, 2019. He was the first officer to encounter Elijah McClain.  

The prosecution claims Woodyard's first mistake was unnecessarily escalating the stop.  

RELATED: Officer Randy Roedema guilty, former officer Jason Rosenblatt not guilty

"I remember I got out of the car and I said, 'hey, do me a favor and stop.'" 

Woodyard says he remembers using his hands to stop McClain but said he didn't mean to hurt him. 

Elijah McClain CBS

The prosecution asked, "when you start telling him stop, he doesn't turn away from you? He doesn't run away from you?" Woodyard replied, "No."  

"The only words [McClain] uttered to you before you grabbed him were 'I have a right to walk where I'm going?'" Woodyard replied, "Yes."   

Woodyard testified that if he could go back, he wouldn't have grabbed McClain. Woodyard also says he wouldn't have used the carotid hold.  

RELATED: Aurora Police Chief Art Acevedo releases statement after verdict reached in Elijah McClain death trial

The prosecution argues that McClain's death was put in motion by the carotid hold and Woodyard's failure to inform paramedics he was struggling to breathe.  

Woodyard testified there was a lot he didn't know leading up to putting McClain in a carotid hold. In the struggle, he claims Officer Randy Rodema told him McClain was trying to grab his gun. 

"I didn't know if the gun was out of the holster. I didn't know if at any second, it'd start going off," Woodyard said. "I was attempting to get him to give up and render him unconscious so he could stop fighting for a gun and put him in handcuffs." 

Bodycam video released by the Aurora Police Department shows Officer Nathan Woodyard using carotid hold on Elijah McClain.  Aurora Police Department

Woodyard testified that he was "expecting to get shot and I thought I'd never see my wife again." 

McClain told officers several times that he was having trouble breathing. Woodyard testified that he believed McClain was OK, as he was able to talk. When the sergeant arrived, Woodyard says he stepped away from McClain to gather his emotions.  

RELATED: Colorado prosecution rests in Nathan Woodyard trial in death of Elijah McClain

"When I walked away, I thought he was in the recovery position. There were officers with him. I thought he was safe," said Woodyard.  

The prosecution asked Woodyard if he was aware of the risk that somebody with ignored breathing complaints could die from that problem. Woodyard responded, "Yes."  

The prosecution went on to ask, "When you came back to the scene, and Mr. McClain was about to get ketamine and put on the gurney, you didn't tell anyone about his complaints that he couldn't breathe?" Woodyard responded, "No." 

Woodyard admitted that he did not inform the sergeant or the paramedics that McClain has complained of problems breathing.  

Woodyard said there was never a time when he thought McClain was in danger of dying. 

On Oct. 12 a jury founded Randy Roedema guilty of criminally negligent homicide and third-degree assault, Jason Rosenblatt was found not guilty of manslaughter and assault. 

Sentencing for Roedema is scheduled for Jan. 5 at 1:30 p.m. in Adams County Court. 

Why officer Randy Roedema and former officer Jason Rosenblatt received split verdicts 03:26
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