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Paramedics found guilty of negligent homicide of Elijah McClain

The jury delivered guilty verdicts on three separate counts in the trial of two Denver-area paramedics.
Posted at 8:12 PM, Dec 22, 2023

A jury found two Colorado paramedics who were charged in the death of 23-year-old Black man Elijah McClain guilty of criminally negligent homicide. One of the two, Aurora Fire Department Lt. Peter Cichuniec, was also found guilty on one count of second-degree assault.

Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec were both charged with manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and assault. The jury found Cooper not guilty on both charges of second-degree assault. The Jury found Cichuniec not guilty on one of the second-degree assault charges.

McClain was killed in 2019 after police restrained him and the paramedics injected him with the sedative ketamine.

Two of the three police officers were acquitted. The third, Randy Roedema, was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and third-degree assault in October.

The defense in the latest case argued that the paramedics were following their training when they used ketamine after diagnosing McClain with "excited delirium."

The controversial term is used to describe someone who is mentally dissociated or unable to control their body. It's since been rejected by many medical professionals as a legitimate medical diagnosis. 

The city of Aurora first trained paramedics to diagnose and administer drugs for the condition in 2018. This year, Colorado officials removed excited delirium from all diagnosis and training materials for law enforcement.

According to an amended autopsy, McClain died of complications of ketamine administration following forcible restraint.   

McClain had been walking home from a convenience store in August 2019 — wearing a black ski mask — when someone called 911 to report that he looked “sketchy.”    

“He might be a good person or a bad person,” the caller said.  

McClain was not committing any crime when police approached him. 

Trial begins for paramedics who used ketamine on Elijah McClain
A makeshift memorial in honor of Elijah McClain.

Trial begins for paramedics who used ketamine on Elijah McClain

Jeremy Cooper and Pete Cichuniec pleaded not guilty to criminally negligent homicide, manslaughter and assault in connection with McClain's death.