Elijah McClain’s Death Was Convicted by the Paramedics Who Sedated Him

After police placed Elijah McClain in a neck hold, two Denver-area paramedics were found guilty on Friday of injecting him with an excessive amount of the tranquillizer ketamine, which resulted in his death.

Who are Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec1

Who are Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec? Elijah McClain Case Verdict:

It was the last trial for police and paramedics accused in McClain’s death. McClain was a Black man of 23 years old, and his case was not well-known until demonstrations in 2020 over George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, Minnesota, took place. Earlier this year, two Aurora police officers were found not guilty, while one officer was found guilty of murder and third-degree assault. Because it is the first case against medical first responders facing charges of crime to reach trial, the trial against the paramedics probed solely unexplored legal space and may create a precedent for prosecutors in such situations in the future.

After a trial in state district court that lasted for many weeks, the jury convicted Aurora Fire Rescue paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec guilty of criminally negligent murder. On one of the two counts of second-degree assault, the jury also found Cichuniec guilty. Regarding the counts of assault, Cooper was found not guilty. Upon sentence, they can spend years behind bars.

Sheneen McClain, McClain’s mother, gave a fist bump as she exited the courtroom. While deputies were getting ready to arrest Cooper, his wife was sobbing in the front row. Following two days of discussions, the decision was declared. Upon hearing from the jury that one of the counts was where they were stopped on Friday afternoon, the judge instructed them to continue attempting to reach a judgment.

On August 24, 2019, McClain was detained by police on his way home from a convenience shop after someone reported him as suspicious. Another police placed McClain in a neck hold, briefly knocking him out when an officer said he lunged for the officer’s gun—a charge that the prosecution has refuted. Additionally, McClain was restrained by officers until Cooper gave him a ketamine overdose injection. The senior officer, Cichuniec, said that he decided to use ketamine.

According to the prosecution, McClain was not given any basic medical examinations by the paramedics before receiving ketamine, including measuring his pulse. Experts stated that the dosage was too high for a person his size and weight (140 pounds). Also, according to the prosecution, McClain was left lying on the ground, which made it more difficult for him to breathe, rather than being closely watched right away after receiving the sedative.

McClain’s desperate remarks, “I’m an introvert and I’m different,” which were caught on police body camera footage, resonated with demonstrators around the nation. McClain’s mother claimed in a statement made public before the judgment that everyone there when her son was stopped by the police showed a lack of empathy.

“Their participation in an evil action or their indifference to evil can neither be attributed to their job training,” McClain said. That all falls on them. When their time comes, may their souls all burn in hell.

Defence lawyers contended that the paramedics treated McClain with ketamine following their training after diagnosing him with “excited delirium,” a contentious diagnosis that some believe is incorrect and has been used to excuse the use of excessive force.

The findings followed the state of Washington jury’s Thursday exoneration of three police officers from all criminal charges related to the death of Manuel Ellis, a Black man who was shocked, assaulted, and placed face-down on a pavement in Tacoma while he gasped for air in 2020.

In the Colorado case, Cooper was accused by the prosecution of lying to investigators in an attempt to justify his conduct. Cooper told them that McClain was actively resisting when he was given a ketamine injection, despite being aware that the body camera saw McClain unconsciously putting on the ground. It refuted Cooper’s assertion that McClain attempted to escape the officers holding him down and that, contrary to what other witnesses said, he checked McClain’s pulse while bending over to administer the ketamine shot. During his closing remarks, Senior Assistant Attorney General Jason Slothouber accused the jury of “trying to cover up the recklessness of his conduct.”

This week, Cichuniec and Cooper both appeared in court. Cichuniec said that paramedics were taught to treat excited delirium with ketamine fast and that they were repeatedly informed that the medicine was safe and effective, without ever being informed that it may kill someone.

As a result of the contentious disease known as exuberant delirium, which has been linked to racial prejudice against Black males and includes symptoms including greater strength, Colorado has instructed paramedics not to administer ketamine to patients who may be suffering from it. “We were instructed that this is a harmless substance that won’t harm them,” Cichuniec stated in court.

In 2019, the coroner’s office was unable to identify the specific cause of death for McClain, a massage therapist, therefore the local authorities declined to press charges. A grand jury charged the cops and paramedics in 2021 after Colorado Governor Jared Polis asked the office of State Attorney General Phil Weiser to reexamine the case in 2020.

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Police Investigation:

More than two dozen states limited the use of neck holds as a result of the murders of McClain, Floyd, and other people. Due to a blood circulation issue, McClain was wearing a mask that covered the majority of his face and was listening to music when the cops pulled him over. McClain appeared to be taken off guard when he requested to be left alone, which led to the police stop fast turning aggressive. There had been no criminal accusations made against him.

Officer Randy Roedema said, “He grabbed your gun dude,” and that’s when the police informed the investigators they took McClain out. Later, Roedema claimed that the target was Officer Jason Rosenblatt’s firearm. The prosecution denied that McClain ever attempted to take an officer’s pistol, claiming that body camera evidence does not show it. McClain was restrained on the ground by Roedema and an uninvolved cop while paramedics gave him ketamine injections. Three days after suffering a heart collapse on the way to the hospital, McClain passed away.

Earlier this month, Roedema was found guilty of the most minor of several offences that could have resulted in a penalty ranging from probation to prison time. Officer Nathan Woodyard and Rosenblatt were found not guilty of any of the allegations.

During the initial police officer trials, McClain’s death was attributed to the paramedics by the defence team. In 2021, the parents of McClain settled a lawsuit against the city of Aurora by agreeing to pay $15 million.