HomeTop StoriesColorado paramedic sentenced to five years in prison for murdering Elijah McClain

Colorado paramedic sentenced to five years in prison for murdering Elijah McClain

A former Colorado paramedic has been sentenced to five years in prison for the 2019 murder of Elijah McClain after he was stopped by Aurora police.

Peter Cichuniec was one of two paramedics convicted of negligent homicide for their role in the 23-year-old’s death, which sparked years of protests and law changes. A jury also found Cichuniec guilty of second-degree assault. The outcome marks an extremely rare case in which a paramedic is found criminally liable and faces a prison sentence for a death in police custody.

Prosecutors in Colorado filed charges against Cichniec, paramedic Jeremy Cooper and three police officers, with cases dragging on for years. Cichuniec and Cooper were responsible for injecting McClain with a dangerous dose of ketamine, a powerful sedative, while officers restrained him.

On August 24, 2019, McClain, a massage therapist, was walking home from the store and listening to music on his headphones when a passing driver called 911 to report a “sketchy” person who “could be a good or a bad person ‘. The caller noted that he did not see any weapons and did not believe anyone was in danger.

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Nathan Woodyard, the first officer who stopped McClain, was immediately aggressive and grabbed him, saying he was “being suspicious.” Two other officers, Randy Roedema and Jason Rosenblatt, soon arrived and tackled McClain to the ground, placed him in a neck hold and put their body weight on him, causing him to go in and out of consciousness.

McClain, an animal lover who taught himself the violin, apologized, repeatedly saying, “I can’t breathe” and also saying, “I’m an introvert… Why are you attacking me? I don’t even kill flies.”

Cichuniec ordered ketamine from the ambulance and Cooper injected McClain with 500 mg, even though 325 mg would have been the appropriate dose for someone his weight, prosecutors said.

McClain showed signs of overdose after dosing and never woke up.

Rosenblatt and Woodyard were acquitted at their trial. Woodyard was reinstated to the force in November and received more than $400,000 in back wages and other payments from the city, before resigning in January. Roedema, convicted of negligent homicide, was sentenced to 14 months. Cooper’s sentencing is scheduled for April.

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