Colorado jury acquits one officer, convicts another on lesser charges in Elijah McClain case | WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Today is Oct. 13, 2023, and here’s what you need to know:

An Aurora police officer who was fired from the force has been acquitted by a jury in connection with the death of Elijah McClain in 2019. 

Former Officer Jason Rosenblatt had faced charges in Adams County of reckless manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and second-degree assault. 

Co-defendant Officer Randy Roedema was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide and third-degree assault. They were the lesser included charges to the manslaughter and second-degree assault counts he faced.

McClain’s mother, Sheneen McClain, raised her fist to a line of gathered photographers as she left the courtroom following the verdicts’ reading. She did not address reporters except to say: “This is the divided states of America, and that’s what happens. I’m out.”

She later told The Denver Gazette’s news partner 9News: “No, it’s not enough.”

“Because Roedema wasn’t alone in what he did to my son. He had accomplices. He had buddies with badges who are all bullies,” she said. “So it’s not a victory for me at all. This is not a victory for the human race. This is not a victory for justice. This is not justice. This is a misuse of taxpayer money.”

The El Paso County Republican Party wants to kick three precinct leaders off the county party’s central committee for their involvement with a campaign organization that uses the word “Republicans” in its name while working to help Republican candidates contact voters.

Those targeted by the local GOP are former state Reps. Lois Landgraf and Kit Roupe, both Colorado Springs Republicans, and longtime party volunteer Candi Boyce, according to documents labeled “Notice of Removal” sent last week by Todd Watkins, the county party’s vice chairman.

Their infractions include continuing to operate a “for-profit business” called Peak Republicans after the state GOP ruled in March that the group couldn’t use the word Republicans in its name, citing party bylaws and a state statute that requires groups using the name of a political party to get permission from the party.

“The Republican Party is not and has never been a for-profit business,” Watkins wrote.

The timing could not be any better for those who want to see major changes in how Colorado’s funeral industry operates.

Lawmakers will have before them in 2024 a sunset review of the state’s funeral home industry, which legislators hope will include strong recommendations that could prevent the kinds of problems seen in the industry recently.

Should that sunset review not include those recommendations, the state’s Department of Regulatory Agencies is already doing a review for funeral service professionals, which would determine whether there is a need to regulate the profession. 

On Oct. 4, at least 115 improperly stored bodies were found at the Return to Nature Funeral Home in Penrose. The facility’s license expired last November, according to the state’s Office of Funeral Home and Crematory Registration. The discovery has led to investigations by the FBI, the Fremont County sheriff and Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

Denver Public Schools officials said they were excluded from collaborations after city officials Thursday announced an ordinance proposing the revival of a coordination committee between the city and the school system.

The ordinance would restructure Denver’s former City-School Coordinating Committee and have them meet six times a year — creating added dialogue between city and school leaders  and granting more city leaders’ voices in DPS policies and operations.

Standing before journalists and the public on Thursday, Council President Pro Tem Amanda Sandoval was joined by Mayor Mike Johnston and former mayors Federico Peña and Wellington Webb at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library.

The council’s proposal for the committee was created by Sandoval and at-large Councilwoman Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez.

Israel’s military told some 1 million Palestinians on Friday to evacuate northern Gaza and head to the southern part of the besieged territory, an unprecedented order applying to almost half the population ahead of an expected ground invasion against the ruling Hamas militant group.

The U.N. warned that so many people fleeing en masse would be calamitous. Hamas, which staged a shocking and brutal attack on Israel nearly a week ago and has fired thousands of rockets since, dismissed it as a ploy and called on people to stay in their homes.

The evacuation order, which includes Gaza City, home to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, sparked widespread panic among civilians and aid workers already running from Israeli airstrikes and contending with a total siege and a territory-wide blackout.

“Forget about food, forget about electricity, forget about fuel. The only concern now is just if you’ll make it, if you’re going to live,” said Nebal Farsakh, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent in Gaza City, as she broke into heaving sobs.

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