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New Autopsy Shows Medics Gave Elijah McClain Too Much Ketamine, Cops Still Charged With His Death

Denver, CO – Officials in Colorado released an amended autopsy report on Friday that said 23-year-old Elijah McClain died in 2019 after paramedics injected him with too much ketamine for someone his size during his arrest.

The amended autopsy report was drastically different from the original report that was released several months after McClain died in Aurora police custody on Aug. 30, 2019, The Washington Post reported.

The first autopsy report said the pathologist didn’t have enough information to determine McClain’s cause of death.

However, the new autopsy said that the pathologist had finally obtained police bodycam video and other investigatory records that were not provided to the medical examiner’s office in 2019, The Washington Post reported.

Based on that new evidence and information, the pathologist for the county determined that paramedics on the scene had injected McClain with too much sedative for a person his size.

The autopsy still listed the McClain’s cause of death as “undetermined,” but anti-police activists said the new report bolstered the charges pending against the police officers and paramedics who they hope to see held accountable for the 20 year old’s death, The Washington Post reported.

A Colorado grand jury indicted two Aurora police officers, one former officer, and two paramedics on a slew of charges that included one count each of manslaughter and criminally-negligent homicide in McClain’s death in September of 2021 after an eight-month-long investigation.

The defendants were identified in the indictment as Aurora Police Officers Nathan Woodyard and Randy Roedema, former Aurora Police Officer Jason Rosenblatt, and Aurora Fire Department Paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec.

The incident occurred on Aug. 24, 2019 when police responded to a call about a suspicious person wearing a mask and waving their arms on Billings Street, the Denver Post reported.

When police arrived on the scene, the suspect – later identified as McClain – refused police commands to stop so they could talk to him.

Police tried to detain McClain and he resisted arrest, and so they used a takedown move and pinned the 140-pound man to the ground.

“Let go of me. I am an introvert. Please respect the boundaries that I am speaking,” McClain told the officers in bodycam video, the Associated Press reported.

Officers used a “carotid control hold” on McClain, according to the Denver Post.

The suspect told police he couldn’t breathe and vomited several times, but he also continued to resist arrest.

Officials said one of the officers requested that paramedics who arrived on the scene dispense a sedative to the still-resisting suspect, KMGH reported.

Paramedics gave McClain a 500-milligram dose of ketamine to calm him down.

However, Aurora police said bodycam video proved it wasn’t the officers’ idea to sedate McClain, KMGH reported.

He suffered cardiac arrest in the ambulance on the way to the hospital and never regained consciousness, the Associated Press reported.

McClain died on Aug. 30, 2019, three days after he was taken off life support.

The Aurora Police Department investigated and the district attorney for the 17th Judicial District determined there was no criminal wrongdoing by the officers involved, the Denver Post reported.

“Based on the facts and evidence of this investigation, I cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers involved in this incident were not justified in their actions based on what they knew at the time of the incident,” Dave Young, the district attorney for the 17th Judicial District in Adams and Broomfield Counties, said in a statement.

“Ultimately, while I may share the vast public opinion that Elijah McClain’s death could have been avoided, it is not my role to file criminal charges based on opinion, but, rather, on the evidence revealed from the investigation and applicable Colorado law,” Young said.

The police department’s investigation of the incident determined the officers “had a lawful reason to contact Mr. McClain” and that the use-of-force applied had been “within policy and consistent with training,” the Denver Post reported.

The carotid hold used on McClain has since been banned by Aurora police.

However, former Officer Rosenblatt was one of three officers who were fired a month after McClain died after he they posed for selfies at a memorial for the 23 year old.

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser announced on Sept. 1, 2021 that all five defendants were facing a slew of charges that included one count each of manslaughter and criminally-negligent homicide, NBC News reported.

Charging documents showed Officer Roedema and former Officer Rosenblatt also face one count each of second-degree assault with intent to cause bodily injury and a related one count each of a crime of violence, NBC News reported.

Paramedics Cooper and Cichuniec were each also facing one count of second-degree assault with intent to cause bodily injury, one count of second-degree assault for recklessly causing serious bodily injury by means of a deadly weapon via the ketamine, and one count of second-degree assault for a purpose other than lawful medical or therapeutic treatment, according to the indictment.

Charging documents showed the paramedics were also charged with two counts of crimes of violence for each of the assault charges, NBC News reported.

The attorney general promised a separate investigation was ongoing into whether Aurora police or fire have a pattern of violating people’s civil rights.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone


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