Paramedic sentenced to 5 years in prison in death of Elijah McClain

A judge sentenced one of the paramedics convicted in Elijah McClain’s death on Friday.

DENVER — A judge sentenced one of the paramedics convicted in Elijah McClain’s death on Friday.

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Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec were found guilty in December of criminally negligent homicide, according to KUSA.

Cichuniec was sentenced Friday to five years in prison for the second-degree assault conviction. He also got a year for the criminally negligent homicide charge, the news outlet reported. When he gets out of prison, he will be paroled for about three years. Cooper was found not guilty of second-degree assault with intent to cause bodily harm and not guilty of second-degree assault for administering drugs without consent but the jury found Cichuniec guilty of second-degree assault for administering drugs without consent and acquitted him of second-degree assault with intent to cause bodily harm.

Cichuniec was a former Aurora Fire Rescue lieutenant, according to The New York Times. He was one of five police officers and paramedics who were prosecuted in connection with the case. In Addition to Cooper and Cichuniec’s convictions, a police officer was also convicted.

That police officer was Randy Roedema, 41, and he was sentenced to 14 months in prison back in January, according to the Times. Roedema was a lieutenant with the Aurora Police Department.

Cooper is expected to be sentenced in April, the newspaper reported.

“Emergency medical professionals serve honorably every day and save lives. In this case, Mr. Cichuniec disregarded his training and ordered Elijah McClain to receive a deadly dose of a powerful sedative while he was restrained and motionless on the ground, which killed him. A jury found the defendant guilty of criminally negligent homicide and second-degree assault,” Attorney General Phil Weiser wrote, according to KDVR.

“No action will bring Elijah back or take away the pain and loss that his mother, Sheneen McClain, continues to experience,” Weiser continued. “But today’s sentence from the court is one of accountability for the defendant’s criminal negligence in the death of Elijah McClain. It sends a strong message that no profession, whether a paramedic, a nurse, a police officer, an elected official, or a CEO should be immune from criminal prosecution for actions that violate the law and harm people.”

McClain, 23, was stopped on his way home from a convenience store on Aug. 24, 2019. by police, after someone called about a suspicious person, the AP reported. An officer claimed that McClain tried to reach for an officer’s gun, which prosecutors disputed. Another officer had put McClain in a neck hold that led to him being unconscious temporarily.

McClain was also pinned down before Cooper injected him with an overdose of ketamine. According to the AP, Cichuniec was a senior officer who said that he made the decision to use the ketamine.

Prosecutors claimed that the paramedics did not conduct basic medical checks on McClain before administering the ketamine, the AP reported. Experts testified that the dose that McClain was given was reportedly too much for someone weighing 140 pounds. Prosecutors also claimed that the paramedics did not monitor him after giving him the ketamine.

McClain died six days later, KDVR reported. A revised statement from the coroner said he died due to ketamine administration following forcible restraint.

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