A Colorado jury found paramedics Jeremy Cooper, 49, and Peter Cichuniec, 51, guilty of criminally negligent homicide in the tragic case of Elijah McClain. The unarmed 23-year-old Black man died in August 2019 after being placed in a chokehold and injected with ketamine during his arrest.
Responding to a call about a “suspicious” Black male, McClain, who was merely buying iced tea and wore a ski mask due to anemia, encountered a fatal encounter with police in Aurora. Despite no evidence supporting the claim that McClain reached for an officer’s gun, he ended up injected with a sedative by the attending paramedics.
The jury’s decision follows a similar ruling against a white police officer in October for criminally negligent homicide, while two other officers were cleared. McClain’s tragic death, months before George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis, sparked nationwide protests against racism and police brutality.
The defense argued that the paramedics followed protocol in administering the drug, but prosecutors contended they disregarded their training in handling distressed patients. The prosecution emphasized that there was no medical need for ketamine and accused the paramedics of failing to seek McClain’s consent for the treatment.
This case stands out as it is uncommon for paramedics to face charges related to the death of the person they were treating, according to CNN. The verdict sheds light on accountability in emergency medical response, highlighting the importance of proper procedures and patient consent.