OAN’s Abril Elfi
9:13 AM – Sunday, December 24, 2023
Two Denver paramedics have been convicted in connection to the death of Elijah McClain.
The jury has found two paramedics, Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec, guilty of giving 23-year-old McClain a lethal overdose of the sedative ketamine in 2019.
Both Cooper and Cichuniec had pleaded not guilty to the felony charges.
On top of the murder charge, Cichuenic was found guilty of a second-degree unlawful; administration of drugs assault charge, but not guilty of second-degree assault resulting in bodily injury and was taken into custody.
Cooper was acquitted on both of those charges.
The paramedics’ administration of a substantial dose of the potent sedative ketamine to McClain, who had been violently subdued by police, was accused by prosecutors of being reckless in spite of not speaking with him or monitoring his vital signs.
McClain’s cause of death was given as “complications of ketamine administration following forcible restraint” in an updated autopsy report that was made public in 2022.
The paramedics, however, testified during their trial that they were treating patients with “excited delirium,” a contentious diagnosis that characterizes extreme agitation and is typically used to describe people who are being subdued by police.
“During our training, we were told numerous times that this is a safe, effective drug,” Cichuniec told the court. “That is the only drug we can carry that can stop what is going on and calm him down so we can control his airway, we can control him and the safety of him, get him to the hospital as quick as we can.”
In addition, McClain’s three subduing Aurora police officers are being tried for their roles in the incident.
Officers Jason Rosenblatt and Nathan Woodyard were found not guilty of any charges, but Officer Randy Roedema was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide and assault. As a result, the department fired Roedema.
According to the indictment, the five first responders are charged in connection with McClain’s arrest on August 24th, 2019, after authorities responded to a report about a “suspicious person” donning a ski mask.
As McClain was making his way home from a convenience store with a plastic bag filled with iced tea, the officers approached him, wrestled him to the ground, and put him in a carotid hold.
McClain’s death was one of several cases that came under increased scrutiny, following the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in the spring of 2020, which led to widespread protests across the nation.
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