Nathan Woodyard returned to the Aurora Police Department after he was suspended without pay in September 2021, reporters learned. He's currently undergoing updated training after he was acquitted of all charges in connection to McClain's death earlier this month. Ryan Luby, a police spokesperson, confirmed Woodyard's reintegration into the force in an email to the news outlet.
“The length of a reintegration period varies depending on the employee, the length of their extended absence, and any other circumstances that may arise before or during that process,” Luby wrote. “Consequently, Mr. Woodyard would need to undergo reintegration for a period of time as numerous policies and practices at the Aurora Police Department have changed since he was placed on administrative leave without pay.”
In August 2019, Woodyard responded to reports of a suspicious person and found 23-year-old McClain walking home from a convenience store. The patrol officer immediately got physical with the Black man without explaining why he was arresting him. Officers Randy Roedema and Jason Rosenblatt later pulled up and assisted in violently restraining McClain, which was caught on body camera footage.
Woodyard put McClain in a carotid chokehold, later claiming in court the 23-year-old was reaching for one of their guns. Paramedics injected the Black man with ketamine, a powerful sedative, as officers kept McClain pinned down. McClain went into cardiac arrest on his way to the hospital and died three days later.
The former patrol officer was found not guilty of lesser manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in McClain's death on November 6.
Luby said Woodyard isn't wearing a uniform, won't have public contact, and won't be allowed to enforce laws until his training is complete. Police Chief Art Acevedo told Sentinel Colorado it's "premature" to discuss future reassignment plans for Woodyard.
"I don’t think it’ll happen while I’m here,” he said. “He won’t be on patrol.”