Colorado paramedic jailed for 5 years over killing of Elijah McClain | EUROtoday

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A Colorado firefighter paramedic has been sentenced to 5 years in jail over his function within the demise of 23-year-old Elijah McClain.

The sentence, handed down on Friday to Peter Cichunic, adopted a uncommon prosecution of medical responders that has left officers rethinking how they deal with folks in police custody.

Cichuniec and fellow paramedic Jeremy Cooper had been each convicted in December of criminally negligent murder for administering a sedative finally blamed for killing McClain, a younger Black therapeutic massage therapist, in 2019 who had been stopped by police whereas strolling house from shopping for some ice tea.

His killing drew widespread consideration the next 12 months within the wake of the police homicide of one other Black man, George Floyd, by law enforcement officials in Minneapolis.

The five-year sentence was the minimal the choose may have given Cichuniec beneath sentencing tips.

McClain’s mom, Sheneen McClain, raised her fist within the air as she left the courtroom following the sentencing, as she’s finished after earlier hearings. In earlier testimony Ms McClain mentioned she as soon as dreamed of being a firefighter and regarded them heroes “until the day they took my son’s life.”

Peter Cichuniec obtained 5 years in jail following the demise of Elijah McClain in 2019

(2023 The Denver Post, Medianews Group)

Cichuniec had additionally been discovered responsible of the extra severe cost of second-degree assault for giving a drug with out consent or a respectable medical objective. Jurors concluded the assault precipitated severe bodily damage or demise, which required that he be sentenced to at the very least 5 years in jail.

Cichuniec — who has been in custody since his conviction and was handcuffed and shackled for the listening to — requested the choose for mercy forward of his sentencing on Friday. He mentioned he had spent his 18-year profession as a firefighter and paramedic placing his personal life on the road and placing different lives earlier than his personal.

“I have never backed down from a call and I’ve had more things happen to me than you can imagine,” he mentioned. “It sickened me when the prosecution said during their closing argument that I showed no remorse for Elijah. … There was absolutely no intent to cause any harm to Elijah McClain.”

Following the sentencing a member of Cichuniec’s household known as out, “love you Pete” as he appeared again and waved at them earlier than leaving court docket in handcuffs, The Associated Press reported.

On 24 August 2019 McClain was strolling house from a comfort retailer in Aurora, Colorado, listening to music and carrying a ski masks, which his household mentioned he wore to maintain heat due to his anaemia, when a 911 caller reported him as “looking sketchy”. Police noticed McClain — who was not armed and had not dedicated any crime — and put him in a neck maintain.

That started a battle that lasted about 20 minutes earlier than the firefighter paramedics arrived and McClain was injected with 500 milligrams of ketamine. He suffered cardiac arrest on the best way to the hospital and was taken off life assist three days later.

Experts testified that the sedative finally killed McClain, who was already weakened from struggling to breathe whereas being pinned down after inhaling vomit into his lungs throughout the battle with police.

Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old therapeutic massage therapist, was killed in 2019

(through REUTERS)

The case highlighted gaps in medical procedures for sedations of individuals in police custody that specialists mentioned should be addressed so extra deaths might be prevented.

The convictions of Cichuniec and Cooper in 2023 despatched shockwaves via the ranks of paramedics throughout the US and thrust the career into the acrimonious battle over social justice sparked by the 2020 homicide of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

Firefighters and officers from their union beforehand criticised the state’s prosecution of Cichuniec and mentioned it was discouraging firefighters from changing into paramedics, reducing the variety of certified personnel in emergencies and thereby placing lives in danger.

“Convicting Pete for the death is not justice. It’s the very definition of a scapegoat,” mentioned former Aurora Fire Lieutenant John Lauder, who just lately retired after working with Cichuniec over 20 years.

“But for the grace of God, it could be us in jail. The result of this decision will have a negative impact on patient care throughout the nation. Will paramedics now be held be held responsible for outcomes beyond their control?”