Colorado paramedics found guilty in 2019 death of Elijah McClain after ketamine injection overdose

Colorado paramedics found guilty in 2019 death of Elijah McClain after ketamine injection overdose


A Colorado jury on Friday convicted two paramedics in the death of 23-year-old Elijah McClain, who was given a lethal dose of ketamine in 2019.

Aurora Fire Rescue paramedics Peter Cichuniec and Jeremy Cooper were found guilty by a jury of criminally negligent homicide. 

Cichuniec was also found guilty of second-degree assault through unlawful administration of drugs

They were both acquitted of assault in the second-degree with intent to cause bodily injury causing serious bodily injury.

COLORADO PROSECUTOR ACCUSES PARAMEDIC OF CAUSING KETAMINE OVERDOSE IN ELIJAH MCCLAIN TRIAL

Paramedics Jeremy Cooper, left, and Peter Cichuniec, right, enter the Adams County, Colorado Justice Center, Friday in Brighton, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

People in court

Paramedics Peter Cichuniec, fourth from left, and Jeremy Cooper, fifth from left, are flanked by their attorneys, left, and prosecutors, right, during an arraignment in the Adams County district court at the Adams County Justice Center on Jan 20, 2023, in Brighton, Colo. (Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images/File)

Defense attorneys argued the paramedics followed their training in giving ketamine to McClain after deciding he had “excited delirium,” a controversial medical condition used to define extreme agitation.

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They also have said prosecutors have not proven that the sedative is what killed him.

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, left, speaks outside the Adams County Colo., Justice Center, after a verdict was rendered in the killing of Elijah McClain, Friday, in Brighton, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The outcome could set a precedent going forward for how emergency personnel respond to situations with people in police custody, said University of Miami criminologist Alex Piquero.

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“Imagine if you’re a paramedic,” Piquero 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.’”

Demonstrators hold a rally following McCain's death

Demonstrators carry a giant placard during a rally and march over the death of 23-year-old Elijah McClain outside the police department in Aurora, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski/File)

The trials stem from an Aug. 24, 2019 incident, after McClain purchased iced tea from a corner store and was walking home when police confronted him.

After a police office claimed that McClain reached for an officer’s gun, an officer put him in a tight neck hold that caused him to go unconscious.

Officers also pinned down McClain before Cooper injected him with an overdose of ketamine. 

Protesters walking

Demonstrators carry placards as they walk down Sable Boulevard during a rally and march over the death of Elijah McClain in Aurora, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski/File)

After being injected, McClain had no pulse in the ambulance, went into cardiac arrest and died Aug. 30, 2019.

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Cichuniec was the senior officer and said it was his decision to use ketamine.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.





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