Paramedics Found Guilty in Last Trial in Elijah McClain Death

Two Colorado paramedics were convicted of criminally negligent homicide in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain, a young unarmed Black man whose case drew national attention and forced public safety reforms in the city where he lived and died.

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 Mr. Cooper of both assault charges, but convicted Mr. Cichuniec of one of those charges, second-degree assault for the unlawful administration of drugs.

The men had injected Mr. McClain with the powerful sedative ketamine while he was in police custody in Aurora, Colo., which doctors said left him near death. He died days later in the hospital.

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.

It was also the third and final trial in Mr. McClain’s death; three police officers were prosecuted in two earlier trials. One officer was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and third-degree assault and will be sentenced on Jan. 5. Two other officers were acquitted, and one has returned to the Aurora Police Department.

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.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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