Paramedic Responsible For Killing Elijah McClain Receives Five-Year Prison Sentence

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It is rare for a medical responder to be prosecuted and sentenced, but on Friday, Peter Cichuniec, the paramedic responsible for killing Elijah McClain in 2019, received a five-year prison sentence.

Cichuniec authorized the fatal dose of ketamine, which is “a powerful sedative ultimately blamed for killing the 23-year-old massage therapist.”

As CPR News notes, Cichuniec made this decision despite that fact that he “had never forcibly administered ketamine before,” and “knowingly” gave the unarmed young Black man
an “overdose of the sedative.”

During the December 2023 trial, an Adams County forensic pathologist testified saying “if it wasn’t for that big dose of ketamine for McClain’s 143-pound body weight, he would have lived.”

The 51-year-old paramedic and “former lieutenant with Aurora Fire Rescue, was subsequently convicted by a jury of criminally negligent homicide and second-degree assault for the unlawful administration of drugs,” The New York Times reports.

McClain’s mother, Sheneen addressed the judge during Friday’s sentencing hearing, stating, “My son’s murder was 100 percent avoidable.”

“I am here to witness that Peter Cichuniec will receive some form of accountability in the American justice system for his participation in my son’s murder,” Sheneen continued. “The truth is he did not even try to save my son’s life when he had so many chances to perform his exceptional skills.”

Sheneen also disclosed, “I have always looked at firefighters as local heroes until the day they assisted in murdering my son, Elijah McClain.”

Before Judge Mark Warner issued Cichuniec’s sentence, he said, “Should there have been a better medical assessment of Elijah McClain prior to the administration of ketamine? The answer is simply yes.”

The judge did make sure to add that “[t]he court does not find [Cichuniec] is an ongoing risk to the public.”

But this wasn’t the only news this week surrounding Cichuniec and Jeremy Cooper, the other paramedic who was also convicted last December of criminally negligent homicide and will receive his sentence in April. Denver7 Investigates recently discovered that “the City of Aurora used taxpayer funds to give Aurora Fire Rescue firefighters and paramedics a retention bonus that was then taken out of their paychecks to go to a ‘benevolent fund’ supporting the families of the paramedics… a donation fund totaling more than $150,0000 for the families of Cooper and Chichuniec.”

Since the news was made public several Aurora firefighters have come forward to relay their displeasure with this decision, in addition to how the optics of these payments look.

“I don’t think it looks good,” stated one Aurora firefighter. “The city unilaterally decided to donate money to the families and to the individuals who were convicted. As far as optics are concerned, these folks were convicted for their involvement in the death of Elijah McClain.”

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