Nov 27, 2023 - News

Trial for two paramedics charged in Elijah McClain's death set to begin

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser outside the Adams County Justice Center on Nov. 6 in Brighton. Photo: Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The trial of two Aurora paramedics — Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec — charged in Elijah McClain's death will begin this week once jury selection wraps up.

Details: Cooper and Cichuniec made the determination to inject McClain with ketamine, a sedative, after he was restrained and put in handcuffs by Aurora police officers in August 2019.

  • The two men are charged with manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and second-degree assault. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Why it matters: It's unusual for paramedics to face criminal charges and they are the last first responders to go on trial for McClain's death.

Catch up quick: Former officer Jason Rosenblatt and officer Nathan Woodyard were recently found not guilty on all counts.

  • A third, Randy Roedema, was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide and third-degree assault.

Zoom in: The state's case alleges Cooper and Cichuniec "deviated from the standard protocols" when they injected McClain with the sedative.

  • The two paramedics incorrectly diagnosed him with excited delirium, a controversial diagnosis suggesting a person has no control over their body and isn't in the right state of mind, according to the indictment.

Between the lines: The state alleges neither paramedic checked McClain's vitals before making the diagnosis. After notifying officers on the scene, Cooper injected him with 500 mg of ketamine.

  • Prosecutors argue it was far above what someone of McClain's size — he weighed roughly 143 pounds — should have been given, suggesting his dosage should have been closer to 325 mg.

Context: Ketamine, which can place someone into deep sedation, is capable of causing death when administered in excessive doses, according to the indictment.


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