Aurora police officer acquitted in Elijah McClain’s death has resigned

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Suspended Aurora Police Officer Nathan Woodyard, right, arrives at court in the Adams County Justice Center Monday, Nov. 6, 2023, to hear a jury’s verdict on his role in the death of Elijah McClain, Woodyard was found not guilty.

The Aurora police officer who first encountered Elijah McClain, and was later acquitted in his death, has resigned from the Aurora Police Department.

Aurora City spokesperson Ryan Luby confirmed Tuesday that Nathan Woodyard submitted his resignation Friday. No further details were given.

Woodyard was the first officer to arrive on scene after receiving a call of a suspicious person near Colfax and Billings in August 2019. Body-worn camera footage showed the officer approaching McClain in an attempt to detain him. Woodyard was one of two officers who used a carotid hold to subdue the unarmed 23 year-old, who was never accused of a crime. 

Following the violent confrontation by officers, Aurora Fire paramedics injected McClain with a large dose of ketamine, a powerful sedative. He died days later. 

Woodyard, fellow officers Randy Rodema and Jason Rosenblatt, and paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec went to trial last fall. Woodyard returned to the police department, which did not fire him, after he was acquitted in November. He received $212,546 in back pay and was going through the department's reintegration period.

Rosenblatt was also acquitted, but he was fired from the Aurora Police Department prior to his trial. Randy Roedema was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and third-degree assault. He was sentenced to 14 months in jail and four years probation earlier.

Cooper and Cichuniec were also convicted of criminally negligent homicide. Cicheunic was individually found guilty of assault for unlawful administration of drugs, as well as a sentence enhancer that said he caused a death. He is currently in the custody of the Adams County Sheriff’s Office. Both paramedics will be sentenced on March 1.

Luby confirmed that Woodyard is still entitled to the back pay he’s owed and his pension.