BRIGHTON, Colo. — The jury deliberating the fate of the third Aurora police officer involved in the death of Elijah McClain has reached a verdict. Jurors acquitted Aurora officer Nathan Woodyard of manslaughter and a lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide.   

The following statement can be attributed to ACLU of Colorado Executive Director, Deborah Richardson.  

“The ACLU of Colorado is disheartened by the acquittal of Officer Nathan Woodyard. He, officer Randy Roedema and former officer Jason Rosenblatt had no grounds to stop Elijah McClain in the first place. Their actions that night to use excessive force instead of simply talking to Elijah and allowing him to finish his walk home directly led to his death. Officers Woodyard and Roedema and former officer Rosenblatt all need to be held accountable for more. This egregious use of deadly force by Aurora Police is unacceptable, outrageous, and intolerable.  

“Elijah McClain’s mother, Sheneen, has endured insurmountable pain since the loss of her son at the hands of Aurora police in 2019. The verdict yesterday, and the previous verdicts in October, do not bring the justice Sheneen and Elijah’s family deserve. These verdicts do not help them find peace in a world without their beloved brother and son. He should still be alive today. The arc of the moral universe has been far too long and painful for him, his family, and his community. We all continue to grieve.  

“Just as people organized, protested en masse and held firm in their outrage while demanding accountability, we will build on those efforts to make Colorado a state free from police violence and terror. This moment demands it.”  

Elijah McClain was a 23-year-old young Black man, a massage therapist and gifted violinist. On August 24, 2019, he was stopped by Aurora police on his walk home from the convenience store. Officers then tackled him, restrained him and directed first responders to administer an overdose of ketamine, ultimately leading to his death a few days later.