Colorado paramedics found guilty in death of Elijah McClain over use of sedatives during restraint

Paramedics injected him with 1 1/2 times the dose of ketamine for his weight.


On Friday, two fire rescue paramedics were found guilty of negligent homicide in the 2019 death of 23-year-old Elijah McClain in Aurora, Colorado, after they administered a lethal dose of ketamine to sedate him after he was arrested by police. 

Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec were both found guilty of criminally negligent homicide, and Cichuniec was additionally found guilty of two counts of second-degree assault through unlawful administration of drugs, Fox News reports. 

During the trial, the defense argued that the two were following their training when they administered ketamine due to McClain's "excited delirium," and that the prosecutors did not prove drugs were the cause of his death. 

The August 24, 2019, death of the 23-year-old gained national attention after the death of George Floyd less than a year later. A video of the incident shows police stopping McClain and forcing him to the ground.

When police approached him they yelled, "Stop right there. Stop. Stop ... I have a right to stop you because you're being suspicious."

"You guys started to arrest me, and I was stopping my music to listen," McClain replied to the officer. "I'm just different. I'm just different, that's all. That's all I was doing. I'm so sorry. I have no gun. I don't do that stuff. I don't do any fighting. Why were you attacking me? I don't do guns. I don't even kill flies. I don't eat meat. ... I am a vegetarian."

When Cooper and Cichuniec arrived they injected him with 1 1/2 times the dose of ketamine for his weight and he stopped breathing five minutes later, which left him brain dead for six days, when he was subsequently taken off life support. 

Miami criminologist Alex Piquero told the outlet that this could create a hesitancy in paramedics, afraid they could be criminally liable for doing their job. "Imagine if you’re a paramedic," he said. "They could be hesitant. They could say, ‘I’m not going to do anything’ or ‘I’m going to do less. I don’t want to be found guilty.’"

Initially, three police officers were also charged in connection to McClain's death. Two were acquitted of all charges, and Aurora police officer Randy Roedema was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide and third-degree assault.

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