Headlines — January 20, 2023

January 20, 2023

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Judge Orders Three Separate Trials For Police And Paramedics Who Face Criminal Charges From Elijah McClain Death

Adams County District Court Judge Mark Douglas Warner ruled Wednesday that there will be three separate trials for the police officers and paramedics who are facing charges of manslaughter and negligent homicide in connection with the 2019 violent arrest and death of Elijah McClain. As part of Wednesday’s ruling, Warner said “the factual circumstances do not neatly follow a typical co-defendant criminal matter”.

Warner ordered that the Aurora officer who put McClain in a chokehold will be tried alone and that the police officers who were involved with restraining McClain will be tried together in another proceeding. The third proceeding will involve the two paramedics who injected McClain with the sedative ketamine.

The five defendants facing a combined 32 count grand jury indictment are Aurora police officers Nathan Woodyard, Randy Roedema, Jason Rosenblatt, and paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Peter Chichuniec. The Court has scheduled the defendants to appear for an arraignment hearing today in which the defendants will offer their pleas and the judge will likely set dates for their trials.

Aurora Rehires K9 Cop Involved With Restraining Elijah McClain And Threatening To Use Police Dog On Him

The Aurora Civil Service Commission has re-hired former canine police officer Matthew Green, who as back-up responder in 2019, helped restrain Elijah McClain and also threatened to release a police dog on him if he failed to comply. According to the Aurora Sentinel, city hiring documents show Aurora re-hired the former K-9 officer as a patrol officer on Jan. 10. Green, who was not charged for McClain’s death, was previously with the department starting in 2009 and left voluntarily in 2021 to work for law enforcement in Douglas County.

The Aurora Sentinel reports the department spokesperson did not respond to criticisms surrounding Green’s re-hiring. Sheenen McClain, Elijah McClain’s mother, told the Aurora Sentinel that she is disappointed and disgusted by the news of the hiring but not surprised. She says she believes everyone involved during the night of her son’s murder bears responsibility. McClain’s mother also criticized Green for taking on a slave mentality of telling a person of color they are going to be attacked by a police dog.

Green’s reinstatement comes amid additional controversy for the beleaguered Aurora Police Department that is facing hiring challenges. In recent weeks, the department promoted officer Nate Meier, who in 2019 passed out drunk behind the wheel of his police car, to the rank of agent. Last week, the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office arrested off-duty Aurora police officer Douglas Harroun based on allegations that he punched a disabled woman in the head during a dispute.

Boulder City Council Exempts Diapers And Menstrual Products From The City’s Sales Tax

Boulder City Council voted Thursday evening to end the city sales tax on menstrual and diaper products. Boulder joins Denver and Aurora in exempting the products from city sales tax revenues. The Colorado legislature also passed a law last year ending the state sales tax for the products.

Among other activities during last night’s city council meeting, the city council once again delayed a vote approving new members to the city’s Police Oversight Panel after finding out that a resident filed a formal complaint alleging the selection committee violated an ordinance that requires mandatory qualifications for the panelists.

Boulder County Commissioners Join Signatory Action That Supports An EPA Regulation Of Leaded Aviation Gas 

The Boulder County Commission unanimously agreed earlier in the week to join other local governments nationwide in stating support for a proposed finding by the Environmental Protection Agency that says leaded aviation gas endangers the health and welfare of the public. According to a county press statement, the EPA published the proposed finding last October as part of a process to potentially regulate and phase out the fuel, similar to the past phase out for leaded gasoline in vehicles.  The EPA says piston-engine aircraft are the largest single source of lead emissions to the air in the United States and the emissions cause elevated lead levels near airports, which in turn endanger public health. 

Littleton Closes Bemis Library After Testing Confirms Methamphetamine Contamination  /  Longmont Holds Off Library Meth Testing

Littleton officials announced late Wednesday that the city has closed the Bemis Public Library after test results showed methamphetamine contamination in several bathrooms. The Littleton Independent reports that recent findings of methamphetamine contamination at library locations in Boulder and Englewood, as well as the Englewood Civic Center, led Littleton officials to perform testing out of an abundance of caution. A library spokesperson told the Littleton Independent that there was no prior evidence of drug use in the library.

The Boulder Daily Camera reports that Longmont officials have decided not to test for methamphetamine at its library location after initially considering it in light of Boulder’s recent contamination. A Longmont official told the Daily Camera that the county health department does not recommend Longmont perform testing at the present time and considers the risk of exposure to be significantly low and not a public health risk. A spokesperson with Boulder County Public Health says the agency was unaware of the Longmont Library meeting any criteria that would require testing. The health department spokesperson also said the agency does not make recommendations for testing, but does enforce the regulations that require testing under certain conditions.

Denver Organizers Hosting Chinese New Year Events Saturday and Sunday

As the Chinese New Year begins on Sunday, two locations in Denver will be hosting celebratory events this weekend.

From 10:30 am to 3:30 pm on Saturday, the Denver Chinese School and the Chinese American Foundation of Colorado are inviting the public to their Cultural Fair, Taste of China, and a Marketplace at Denver’s George Washington High School. Saturday’s event also includes a Celebration Show from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm featuring acrobats, magic, dance, opera, music, martial arts, and a performance by a children’s choir.

On Sunday from 11:00 am to 4 pm, the Far East Center & Truong An Gifts on South Federal Boulevard will be hosting events throughout the day that include lion dances and other special performances.