Update: On Monday morning the judge partially unsealed the case against the two paramedics, saying it was not her intent to fully suppress it.
The three Aurora Police officers arrested for the violent detention of 23-year-old Elijah McClain have their first court appearance Monday morning in Adams County.
They face a list of charges, including criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter, for their treatment of McClain, who died a few days after his arrest, during which he was administered a large dose of ketamine.
Two of the officers, Randy Roedema and Nathan Woodyard, still work for the Aurora Police Department and are currently on leave. The third, Jason Rosenblatt, was fired for a text messaging scandal.
Two paramedics, Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec, were also scheduled to have public court appearances on Monday, but state Judge Priscilla Loew agreed to seal the cases against them.
Cooper and Cichuniec also face criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter charges, and have additionally been charged with second-degree assault with intent to cause bodily injury and second-degree assault by recklessly causing bodily injury by means of a deadly weapon, which in this case means the ketamine.
Investigators say the pair gave McClain a much bigger dose than he should have received based on his body weight.
In a motion filed in mid-September, their attorneys asked to either suppress their cases completely or redact their names from current and future filings, citing “grave safety concerns.”
“This case has garnered significant media attention, both locally and nationally, and has been the subject of numerous protests and demonstrations by the public,” lawyers Michael Lowe and David Goddard wrote in identical filings on behalf of Cooper and Cichuniec. “Defendant contends that the risk of potential harm to him, as well to his family members, outweighs the public interest in the subject court records.”
The lawyers did not return a phone call seeking comment.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a motion to object to the sealing on behalf of a number of news outlets. CPR News has asked to join that motion.
In suppressing the cases against Cooper and Cichuniec, Judge Loew agreed to take the objection up on Monday morning.
The Colorado Freedom Of Information Coalition pointed out that Loew’s order suppressing the cases violates a new Colorado law, which took effect May 10, requiring judges to explain their reasoning when they make criminal court records inaccessible to the public. Loew’s ruling simply says, “SO ORDERED.”
Proceedings in the officers’ cases remain open to the public.
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