Jury Finds 2 Colorado Paramedics Guilty of Homicide in 2019 Killing of Elijah McClain

Gavel with open book and scales on table

Gavel with open book and scales on table

By The Vanguard Staff

AURORA, CO – A jury here found two Colorado paramedics convicted Friday of the more serious charges, including criminally negligent homicide, in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain, a young unarmed Black man whose killing led to public safety reforms in the city where he lived.

The New York Times reported, “A mostly white jury found the paramedics, Peter Cichuniec and Jeremy Cooper, guilty of a more serious charge they faced. But the jury split on two lesser assault charges: They cleared (the paramedics) of both assault charges, but convicted Cichuniec of one of those charges, second-degree assault for the unlawful administration of drugs.”

The men injected McClain with the very powerful sedative ketamine when the youth was in police custody. He died days later in the hospital.

The NY Times said, “The trial was a rare prosecution of paramedics, and raised the question of the role that medical personnel play in police encounters and whether they could be held criminally responsible for their actions.”

There have been three trials in the death of McClain. Earlier, three police officers were prosecuted in two earlier trials with one officer convicted of criminally negligent homicide and third-degree assault, to be sentenced on Jan. 5. Two other officers were acquitted.

“The paramedic trial marks the last chapter in a four-year saga that rocked the city of Aurora and its troubled police force. Mr. McClain’s name and face would become among the most recognizable during the social justice protests of 2020. Local and state investigations followed, and eventually so did policy changes in the Police and Fire Departments,” wrote the NY Times.

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