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A Colorado Judge Will Hand Down the Sentence for the Paramedic Involved in the Killing of Elijah McClain

Credits: ABC News

A Colorado judge is set to hand down the sentencing for paramedic Peter Cichuniec, convicted in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain. McClain, a young Black man, died after being put in a chokehold by police and injected with a potent sedative by medics.

Cichuniec, aged 51, was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide by jurors in December, making it a rare case where paramedics face trial in such circumstances.

He could face up to 16 years in prison. Cichuniec’s partner, Jeremy Cooper, aged 49, also found guilty of criminally negligent homicide, is scheduled for sentencing in late April.

The trial of Cichuniec and Cooper was the final of three cases related to McClain’s death. McClain was not accused of any crime when officers confronted him in Aurora, near Denver, on August 24, 2019.

Colorado Paramedic (Credits: Good Word News)

The police received a 911 call reporting a man dressed in a winter coat and ski mask on a warm night, acting suspiciously as he walked home from a convenience store.

The encounter escalated, with police putting McClain in a carotid chokehold multiple times. Despite his pleas that he could not breathe and vomiting into his ski mask, officers persisted.

The initial autopsy conducted in 2019 deemed McClain’s cause of death “undetermined.” However, a revised autopsy report in 2021 attributed his death to “complications of ketamine administration following forcible restraint.”

The local prosecutors initially declined to press charges in the case, but after the killing of George Floyd in May 2020, global protests ensued, prompting Colorado Governor Jared Polis to request an investigation by the state attorney general’s office into McClain’s case.

A state grand jury indicted the officers and paramedics in 2021, leading to the recent trials and convictions. One police officer was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide and sentenced to 14 months in jail, while two others were acquitted.

McClain’s mother, Sheneen McClain, expressed dissatisfaction, stating that “three out of five convictions are not justice” and urged the judge to issue the maximum sentences for all those convicted.

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