File photo: Demonstrators move along Interstate 225 after stopping traffic during a rally and march over the death of 23-year-old Elijah McClain, Saturday, June 27, 2020, in Aurora, Colorado. Image Credit: AP

US jury convicts white police officer over death of Black man

LOS ANGELES: A US jury on Thursday convicted a white police officer in the 2019 death of a Black man who was put in a chokehold and injected with ketamine during his arrest.

The jury in the western state of Colorado found Aurora police officer Randy Roedema guilty of criminally negligent homicide in the death of Elijah McClain, in a case that sparked public outrage.

Roedema's colleague Jason Rosenblatt was acquitted.

McClain died several days after a struggle with police, and after being injected with ketamine - a powerful sedative - by attending paramedics. The case prompted a celebrity-backed online petition calling for justice when the details came to light.

Police had responded to a call about a "suspicious" Black male "acting weird" in the street and wearing a ski mask.

One officer said McClain, who was unarmed, had reached for another officer's gun.

No evidence was produced to support this claim.

McClain's family told media he had been out buying iced tea, and often wore the mask to stay warm because he suffered from anemia.

McClain's death occurred months before the killing of another Black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis in May 2020, triggered a nationwide reckoning over racism and police brutality.

A third officer who put 23-year-old McClain in the chokehold, Nathan Woodyard, is set to go on trial in the coming days, local media reported.

The responding paramedics - Peter Cichuniec and Jeremy Cooper - are set for trial in November, the outlet said.

"Today's verdict is about accountability; everyone is accountable and equal under the law," said Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser in the wake of the jury's finding Thursday.

"Hopefully today's verdict is another step in the healing process for the Aurora community and the state."