FILE – Aurora, Colo., Police Officer Nathan Woodyard, center, is flanked by his lawyers, Andrew Ho, left, and Megan Downing, right, during an arraignment after being charged in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain at the Adams County Justice Center, Jan. 20, 2023, in Brighton, Colo. Woodyard testified Wednesday, Nov. 1, that he had feared for his life when he applied a neck hold on the 23-year-old Black man before paramedics injected McClain with a fatal overdose of ketamine.
Prosecutors have refuted that McClain ever tried to grab an officer’s gun, and it can’t be seen in body camera footage, which is shaky and dark before all the cameras fall off during the ensuing struggle. Lawyers for two other officers tried earlier in McClain’s death also raised the alleged gun grab as part of their defense.
“I was expecting to get shot, and I thought I’d never see my wife again,” Aurora officer Nathan Woodyard said on the stand, his voice shaking a bit, in his trial in McClain’s death. His death became a rallying cry at social justice protests following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. headtopics.com
Lawyers for Woodyard have argued he had to react to what he heard in the moment. He was the first of three officers who approached McClain after a 17-year-old 911 caller said McClain, who was wearing earbuds and listening to music, seemed “sketchy” and was waving his arms as he walked home onNew Orleans swears in new police chief, Anne Kirkpatrick, first woman to permanently hold the roleThe encounter quickly escalated.
Woodyard, the first police officer to testify in his defense, said he and two other officers, Jason Rosenblatt and Randy Roedema, had McClain up against a wall when he heard McClain say, “I intend to take my power back” and then heard Roedema say, “He just grabbed your gun, dude.” Both statements can be heard on the visually unclear footage. headtopics.com
Woodyard testified that, soon after the neck hold, he heard McClain say he could not breathe, so he took off his mask. He believed McClain was able to breathe after that, laying on his side in what police call the recovery position, as opposed to face down on his stomach. Woodyard then left to talk to his supervisor who arrived on the scene. He said he was so shaken up by what happened that she suggested he take a break.