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Officers involved in Elijah McClain's death re-assigned in "effort to protect" them

Gov. appoints prosecutor in Elijah McClain case
Colorado governor appoints special prosecutor in Elijah McClain case 01:26

The three officers involved in the death of 23-year-old Elijah McClain in Colorado last August have been moved off regular duty for their own protection, a spokesperson for the city of Aurora said on Friday. Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt and Randy Roedema are now working in a non-enforcement capacity. 

Woodyard and Rosenblatt were moved on June 13, and Roedema was moved on June 20, the spokesperson said, adding, "This was done in an effort to protect those officers." 

The district attorney charged with investigating the case, Dave Young, said that McClain was killed after officers repeatedly tried to stop him on the street. When officers tried to restrain him, McClain resisted and said "Let me go, no let me go, I am an introvert, please respect my boundaries that I am speaking," according to Young's November 2019 report on the incident. 

The report said the altercation escalated after Roedema said McClain had reached for an officer's gun. The officers then quickly took McClain to the ground and Woodward placed him in a carotid control hold, causing him to fall unconscious. 

McClain was awake and resisting officers when paramedics arrived at the scene, so medics administered ketamine to sedate him, the report said. But he then suffered cardiac arrest that led to "anoxic encephalopathy," or loss of blood flow to the brain, and was pronounced brain dead three days later. The coroner couldn't determine a cause of death — but said it was possible that the ketamine contributed, according to the report. 

In an interview with CBS News, Sheneen McClain described her son as a massage therapist who "wanted to heal" others. "He not only healed others, he healed himself," she said. "He was able to accept love and give love in varying forms."

"They murdered him. They are bullies with badges," she added.

Young did not charge the officers, claiming that although "They could have done a million things differently," there was not enough evidence to press charges. After Young released a letter saying the officers wouldn't be charged, they returned to duty, according to CBS Denver

But in the wake of George Floyd's death and a renewed attention to police killings of black men, the District Attorney's Office received more than 10,000 phone calls and 2,000 emails calling for the three officers to be charged, according to CBS Denver

On Thursday, Governor Jared Polis appointed the state's attorney general as a special prosecutor to investigate the case. 

David Begnaud and Audrey McNamara contributed reporting. 

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