Nathan Woodyard (right) had been suspended for his role in death of Elijah McClain(left).
US police officer Nathan Woodyard, implicated in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain, has resumed duty at the Aurora Police Department, following his acquittal on all charges earlier this month. The return comes with over $212,546 in back pay, as permitted by the city charter.
Woodyard, one of three officers indicted, sought reinstatement and is currently undergoing training on updated policies and practices introduced since his suspension without pay in September 2021, according to Aurora spokesman Ryan Luby.
The case had drawn attention due to Mr McClain's death after police interaction, sparking calls for justice and police reform. Woodyard's reintegration into the force raises questions about accountability and the broader discourse on policing in the United States.
According to The Guardian, the killing of Elijah McClain, who became unconscious as he was held down by multiple officers and then was injected with a dangerously high dose of ketamine, sparked national outrage and years of protests. He was a massage therapist and animal lover who had taught himself to play the violin.
Woodyard, one of three officers who have faced prosecution, is returning to his job despite playing a pivotal role in the initial stop of McClain and using force tactics that the local coroner's office has ruled contributed to his death.
"Woodyard has elected to reintegrate with the APD and is currently on Restricted Duty (not in uniform, no public contact, and no enforcement actions) pending next steps in the reintegration process," Ryan Luby said in an email, adding that according to Aurora's city charter, officers facing felony charges must undergo immediate suspension without pay until the resolution of their case. Upon acquittal, reinstatement is mandated.