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Former Colorado officer gets jail time in death of Elijah McClain

Randy Roedema is the only police officer convicted in connection with McClain’s death. His attorney said he will be appealing the conviction.
Former Colorado officer gets jail time in death of Elijah McClain
Posted at 7:53 PM, Jan 05, 2024

Randy Roedema, a former Aurora, Colorado police officer who was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and third-degree assault in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain, was sentenced to 14 months in the Adams County Jail and four years of probation Friday. 

“I cannot begin to comprehend the pain of Mr. McClain’s mother, Sheneen, or his other family members and friends,” said Hon. Mark Warner, the presiding judge, prior to handing down the sentence. 

Warner said Roedema would be authorized to participate in a work release program.

“I often think about what happened on that evening that Elijah was taken to that hospital,” said Randy Roedema as he pleaded with the judge to impose a sentence of probation before the judge announced his decision.

Roedema also offered condolences to McClain’s family.

“The situation had a horrible outcome that nobody intended or wanted to happen. Ultimately, the situation has caused a lot of pain, and we are now faced with the choice of how to live with it, this heartbreaking experience,” he said.

McClain died in 2019 after a rough police altercation and after paramedics decided to inject him with the powerful sedative, ketamine. Roedema was one of three police officers who approached, tackled, and pinned McClain to the ground after receiving a report of a person who looked “sketchy” in the neighborhood. McClain was not committing any crime when the officers surrounded him.

Two other officers tried to use a carotid control hold on McClain, cutting the blood flow to his brain. An amended autopsy found McClain died of complications of ketamine administration following forcible restraint.

Roedema was the only police officer who was convicted in connection with McClain’s death. Reid Elkus, one of Roedema’s defense attorneys, said Roedema would be appealing the conviction.

In December, two paramedics were convicted of criminally negligent homicide for their role in McClain’s death. They will be sentenced in March.

SEE MORE: Elijah McClain's mom says paramedics' guilty verdicts aren't justice

During Friday’s hearing, Roedema said he wished a bystander never called 911 to report that McClain, who was wearing a black ski mask, looked “sketchy” as McClain walked home from the convenience store. He also said he wished first responders were trained to respond differently to calls like that.

“I want the McClain family to know the sadness I feel about Elijah being gone. He was young,” he said. “I know that time is not capable of filling the hole that is in their hearts.”

Sheneen McClain, Elijah McClain’s mother, said no matter what the judge decided, “Randy Roedema will always be a bully with a badge on that used his power in some of the most horrific and evil ways.”

She said Roedema “tortured” her son and applied pain techniques that forced his joints to pop for “no reason.”

Randy Roedema, who pinned McClain during the struggle, “did not let Elijah go until Elijah’s lifeless body was transferred to a gurney,” she said. “Where was Randy Roedema’s kindness and humanity that night?”

McClain said she never saw any of the officers who were charged in the death of her son express remorse or kindness.

“Peace officers are not supposed to be murderers,” she said. 

SEE MORE: Awaiting a verdict, Elijah McClain's mom says she has no expectations

McClain said her son loved art and music and was the first person in her family to start a career at such a young age. He worked as a massage therapist before his death at age 23.

During the sentencing hearing, one of Roedema’s defense attorneys cited Roedema’s extensive military and law enforcement history when asking the judge to grant probation.

Roedema served 8 years in the Marine Corps and was honorably discharged, said Don Sisson, Roedema’s attorney. Sisson said Roedema twice earned a Good Conduct Medal as well as a Purple Heart when he was injured in Iraq in 2017.

“He had to go through 23 reconstructive surgeries to his groin area,” said Sisson, who explained that Roedema had been shot in the back in a protective plate and in the left buttocks “with the bullet exiting through his right testicle.

”Roedema also served 14 years in law enforcement, according to Sisson.Sisson described Roedema as a youth soccer coach, the father of three young children, an alumnus of the Wounded Warrior Project, and a volunteer at a church. He submitted 76 “character” letters to the judge, written on behalf of Roedema, which the judge said he reviewed. Some of Roedema’s former military colleagues and his younger sister also spoke in support of Roedema during the sentencing.

“All the achievements of the world become a person’s past once that person changes into a monster,” said Sheneen McClain.

Jason Slothouber, the prosecuting attorney, requested a prison sentence of up to three years before the judge made his decision.

“Elijah McClain’s life mattered,” he said, explaining that the incident was “devastating to the trust of the community and first responders, particularly in communities of color.” 

Slothouber said rebuilding trust requires not just improvement but accountability and punishment. 

“Accountability and punishment are also crucial to deterrence, showing police that callous and even cruel behavior will have serious criminal consequences that not even a badge can shield them from,” he said.

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