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 was split on two lesser assault charges: They acquitted Mr. Cooper of both assault charges, but convicted Mr. Cichuniec of one of those charges, second-degree assault by illegal administration of drugs.
The men had injected Mr. McClain with the powerful sedative ketamine while in police custody in Aurora, Colorado, which doctors said left him near death. He died days later in the hospital.
The trial was a rare trial against paramedics and raised the question of the role medical staff play in police encounters and whether they could be held criminally responsible for their actions.
It was also the third and final trial for Mr. McClain's death; three police officers were prosecuted in two previous trials. An officer was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide and third-degree assault and will be sentenced on January 5. Two other officers were cleared and one returned to the Aurora Police Department.
The paramedics' trial marks the latest chapter in a four-year saga that shook the city of Aurora and its troubled police force. Mr. McClain's name and face would be among the most recognizable during the social justice protests of 2020. Local and state investigations followed, and eventually policy changes also occurred in the police and fire departments.
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