Paramedic Sentenced to Five Years in Death of Elijah McClain

A Colorado paramedic convicted in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain, a young Black man whose case helped drive the national police reform movement, was sentenced on Friday to five years in prison.

The case was a rare criminal prosecution of emergency medical personnel, and stirred outrage among paramedics and firefighters across the nation who worry that urgent decisions made as part of their jobs can be criminalized.

The paramedic, Peter Cichuniec, 51, a former lieutenant with Aurora Fire Rescue, was convicted in December of criminally negligent homicide and second-degree assault for the unlawful administration of drugs. He was one of five police officers and paramedics prosecuted in state district court over three consecutive trials.

A second paramedic and a police officer were also convicted. In January, Randy Roedema, 41, a lieutenant in the Aurora Police Department officer at the time, was sentenced to 14 months in a county jail. Jeremy Cooper, the paramedic working with Mr. Cichuniec, is scheduled to be sentenced in April.

In a courtroom packed with Mr. Cichuniec’s family and dozens of firefighters from across the country, District Judge Mark Douglas Warner said he took many variables into consideration, including praise for Mr. Cichuniec’s character from those who knew him, weighed against the “death of a young man who is simply walking home from a convenience store.”

During more than an hour of character statements, family members, friends and colleagues testified that Mr. Cichuniec was a compassionate man and skilled leader with a “servant’s heart” who was emotionally wrecked by the death of Mr. McClain.

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