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Trial begins for paramedics accused of administering fatal dose of ketamine


Paramedics Jeremy Cooper, left, and Peter Cichuniec, right. Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via AP, File

Trial begins for paramedics accused of administering fatal dose of ketamine

Colorado paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec are charged in connection with the 2019 death of Elijah McClain, a black man. Opening statements in their trial took place on Wednesday. Investigators say McClain, 23, was stopped by police officers and forcibly restrained as he was walking home. Cooper and Cichuniec then administered a 500-milligram dose of ketamine to McClain, according to prosecutors. McClain went into cardiac arrest while en route to the hospital and died three days later. Cooper and Cichuniec are charged with manslaughter, negligent homicide, and several counts of assault. They have both pleaded not guilty. Former police officer Randy Roedema has already been convicted of reckless homicide in connection with McClain’s death.

Why are the paramedics facing charges? According to the autopsy report, McClain died from complications of ketamine administration following forcible restraint. In a 2021 grand jury indictment, prosecutors accuse the two paramedics of failing to adequately assess McClain and say ketamine should never have been administered. Prosecutors also allege that the dosage was too high and that McClain was not adequately monitored.

Dig deeper: Read Julie Borg’s report in WORLD Beginnings about a dangerous rise in unapproved ketamine usage.


Johanna Huebscher

Johanna Huebscher is a student at Bob Jones University and a graduate of the World Journalism Institute.


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