BRIGHTON, Colo. — Two police officers, two paramedics and a former police officer pleaded not guilty Friday in the murder of Elijah McClain, 23, a black man who died after he was strangled and administered a powerful sedative while handcuffed.

Officers Nathan Woodyard and Randy Roedema of the Aurora Police Department in Aurora, Colorado; former Aurora Police Officer Jason Rosenblatt; and Aurora Fire Department paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec were charged with one count of manslaughter and one count of criminally negligent homicide, as outlined in a 32-count indictment.

All five will be tried in three separate trials later this year in Adams County District Court.

Cooper and Cichuniec will be tried together, as will Roedema and Rosenblatt. Woodyard, who placed McClain in a chokehold, forcing him to lose consciousness, will stand trial alone.

The trials come more than three years after McClain’s death, which sparked months of protests that coincided with national demonstrations demanding systemic changes to police procedures following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Police detained McClain, who has never been charged or charged with any crime, in Aurora, a Denver suburb, on Aug. 24, 2019, after he bought an iced tea at a corner store.

That night, three Aurora police officers responded to a report of a suspicious person wearing a mask and waving their arms.

McClain, a masseur, wore a ski mask and usually did so because of a blood condition that made him feel cold, his family said.

Police body camera video released later showed officers ordering McClain to pull over.

He replied that he was an introvert and «please respect the boundaries I’m talking about.» After questioning McClain, the officers seized him.

One of them said that he believed McClain had drawn a holstered pistol and McClain was shot down.

Aurora police have said McClain «resisted contact, a struggle ensued and he was taken into custody.»

Authorities said officers applied a carotid hold on McClain, a type of chokehold intended to constrict blood to the brain to render a person unconscious.

Paramedics were called to the scene and injected McClain with the sedative ketamine while handcuffed, and police video showed him writhing on the ground saying, «I can’t breathe, please,» and vomiting.

an amendment published autopsy report by the county coroner in September 2022 revealed that McClain had died from a ketamine injection after being forcibly restrained.

“I believe this tragic death is likely the result of ketamine toxicity,” the coroner said in the report, adding that McClain received a higher dose than someone should have for his weight. «Simply put, this dose of ketamine was too much for this individual and resulted in an overdose.»