Second paramedic involved in Elijah McClain’s death sentenced to probation, work release and community service | CNN (2024)

Second paramedic involved in Elijah McClain’s death sentenced to probation, work release and community service | CNN (1)

Former paramedic Jeremy Cooper, who injected Elijah McClain with ketamine before his death, sits in court for sentencing, Friday, April 26, 2024, in Brighton, Colorado.

CNN

Jeremy Cooper, a former paramedic in Aurora, Colorado, was sentenced to four years probation, 14 months of work release and 100 hours of community service on Friday.

Cooper and another paramedic, Peter Cichuniec, were found guilty of criminally negligent homicide in December in the death ofElijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man, who was subdued by police and injected with ketamine on August 24, 2019.

Both paramedics had pleaded not guilty to the felony charges. Cichuniec was sentenced last month in a Colorado courtroom to five years in prison, the minimum.

Prosecutors had argued the paramedics acted recklessly in administering a large amount of the powerful sedative ketamine to McClain, who had been violently subdued by police after they said McClain was in a state of “excited delirium.”

A revised autopsy report released in 2022 listed McClain’s cause of death as “complications of ketamine administration following forcible restraint.”

Cooper’s sentencing brings the case to a close, but at the hearing, McClain’s mother, Sheneen, urged the judge to hold Cooper accountable.

Second paramedic involved in Elijah McClain’s death sentenced to probation, work release and community service | CNN (2)

Elijah McClain's mother, Sheneen McClain, speaks in court during the sentencing of former paramedic Jeremy Cooper.

Speaking of Cooper, she said, “You cannot evoke my son’s name to absolve yourself of your own sinful nature.” And referring to Cooper and the other paramedics and police at the scene, she added, “They all failed the city of Aurora.”

Before the sentencing, both Cooper and his wife, Tarrah Cooper, and nearly a dozen others addressed the court on his behalf.

Tarrah said she wanted to offer “heartfelt condolences” to McClain’s mother, Sheneen McClain, and that her “heart aches for her.” Tarrah told the court “part of Jeremy’s soul died” when he learned he would no longer be a firefighter, and asked for leniency in his sentence.

Jeremy Cooper started his remarks by saying “what I would like to do now is talk to Elijah.” McClain’s mother stood up and left the courtroom at that point, along with two other women. Cooper said he wished McClain was still here and able to hug his mother, and expressed a desire to “bring our communities together.”

Sheneen McClain returned to the courtroom once Cooper and his attorney finished speaking. She said the “lack of humanity in their comments is not a surprise.”

“He did what he felt was best? He did nothing,” she said of Cooper’s actions during his encounter with McClain. “There’s nothing Jeremy Cooper can say to remove my son’s blood from his hands.”

In his final comments before Judge Warner handed down the sentence, Senior Assistant Attorney General Jason Slothouber said Cooper was singularly most responsible for McClain’s death, as the person who ordered and injected the ketamine. Slothouber said hearing the stories about Cooper’s past firefighting and paramedic service “makes it all the more tragic that the hero of another story is the villain of Elijah McClain’s.”

The paramedics had testified during the trial they were following their training for treating patients experiencing “excited delirium,” a controversial term describing extreme agitation generally applied to people being subdued by police. The term is not recognized as a diagnosis by major medical associations, includingthe American Medical Association.

Paramedics rarely face charges in such cases as they are typically considered local government agents protected by statutory immunities where injury and death can occur even when they abide by their medical training.

The criminal trial against the two paramedics was unparalleled,CNN previously reported.

Second paramedic involved in Elijah McClain’s death sentenced to probation, work release and community service | CNN (3)

Elijah McClain died in a hospital after Aurora police aggressively subdued him.

McClain’s case received renewed scrutiny following the police killings ofGeorge Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others that led to massive protests across the country.

And after a social media outcry demanding an independent investigation into McClain’s death, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced in June 2020 his administration would reexamine the case, answering a call the victim’s family had been making for almost a year.

The charges against the five first responders stemmed from McClain’s arrest, when Aurora, Colorado, police officers responded to a call about a “suspicious person” wearing a ski mask, according to the indictment. McClain, amassage therapist and musician, was walking home from a convenience store carrying a plastic bag with iced tea, when the officers confronted him, wrestled him to the ground and placed him in a carotid hold, cutting off the blood flow to his brain and rendering him unconscious.

Paramedics were called to the scene and injected McClain with a dose of the powerful sedative ketamine appropriate for a 200-pound person, even though heweighed just 143 pounds. McClain suffered a heart attack on the way to a hospital and was pronounced dead three days later.

During the trial, both paramedics admitted to administering a large amount of ketamine to McClain based on an inaccurate overestimation of his weight. Additionally,Cichuniectold prosecutors he made the decision to administer the 500-milligram dosage without asking McClain for his height or weight because he was experiencing“excited delirium.”

The three Aurora police officers who subdued McClain, officers Randy Roedema, Jason Rosenblatt and Nathan Woodyard, also faced trial for their involvement in the incident.

“By the time he was placed on the gurney, Mr. McClain appeared unconscious, had no muscle tone, was limp, and had visible vomit coming from his nose and mouth,” the indictment said. “(Officer) Roedema said he heard Mr. McClain snoring, which can be a sign of a ketamine overdose.”

Roedema was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide and assault and wassentenced to 14 months in prison, while Rosenblatt and Woodyard were acquitted of all charges.

Dr. Stephen Cina, the pathologist who signed the autopsy report,wrotehe saw no evidence injuries inflicted by police contributed to McClain’s death, and McClain “would most likely be alive but for the administration of ketamine.”

The use ofketamine by emergency responders to tranquilize people against their will is controversial and has triggered investigations in multiple states.

CNN’s Emma Tucker and Eric Levenson contributed to this report.

Second paramedic involved in Elijah McClain’s death sentenced to probation, work release and community service | CNN (2024)

FAQs

Second paramedic involved in Elijah McClain’s death sentenced to probation, work release and community service | CNN? ›

Jeremy Cooper, a former paramedic in Aurora, Colorado, was sentenced to four years probation, 14 months of work release and 100 hours of community service on Friday.

Did Elijah McClain have autism? ›

McClain's family would later come out and say that he was never diagnosed with autism. They have said he was anemic and sensitive, but never if he had a disability.

Who injected Elijah McClain? ›

Jeremy Cooper had faced up to three years in prison after being found guilty in a jury trial last year of criminally negligent homicide. He administered a dose of ketamine to McClain, 23, who had been forcibly restrained after police stopped him as the massage therapist was walking home in a Denver suburb in 2019.

How do you use paramedic in a sentence? ›

An ambulance arrived and paramedics rushed in. Staff gave him first aid before paramedics arrived within six minutes and revived him. Paramedics were treating her when she tried to leave and got her leg stuck between the door and the ambulance. Cruise ships employ nurses and paramedics.

How much did Elijah McClain weigh? ›

McClain weighed 143 pounds, but was given a higher dose of ketamine than recommended for someone his size and overdosed, according to Adams County coroner's office pathologist Stephen Cina.

Why was Elijah McClain wearing a ski mask? ›

McClain was wearing a ski mask at the time because, according to his family, he had anemia, a blood condition that can make people feel cold more easily.

What did paramedic do? ›

EMTs and paramedics assess a patient's condition and administer emergency medical care. Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics assess injuries and illnesses, provide emergency medical care, and may transport patients to medical facilities.

What do Americans call a paramedic? ›

Paramedics and emergency medical technicians — or more commonly known as EMTs — are both critical pillars of the emergency medical system (EMS).

Why is it called paramedic? ›

The term paramedic is used to signify personnel who function as extenders of physicians. The prefix para means "along the side of" and medic is taken to mean "physician." A paramedic works as an extender of the physician.

What was Elijah McClain's medical condition? ›

While on scene McClain went into cardiac arrest. Three days after arriving at the hospital, he was declared brain dead, and was removed from life support on August 30. McClain's initial autopsy was inconclusive and the cause of death was listed as undetermined.

What are the health issues with Elijah McClain? ›

Those experts testified that, based on the video they had viewed, McClain was suffering from a series of medical issues related to his struggle with officers. They included hypoxia, or a lack of oxygen, and acidosis, or a build-up of acid in the blood. He had also inhaled vomit into his lungs.

Does the actor who plays Leo have autism? ›

Their child in the show, Leo, is played by Easton Sweda, a young autistic actor. "I understand Easton's anxiety and his behaviors on set, which, you know, I think I can kind of corral his energy, and when he wants to move around so much, I can just put my hands on his shoulders," said Kurth.

Did the kid on parenthood really have Aspergers? ›

He has Asperger syndrome, a mild form of autism. Burkholder says he was 10 or 11 years old when he got the part, and he didn't know about Asperger's.

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