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Paramedic sentenced to 5 years in prison in Elijah McClain's death

Paramedic Peter Cichuniec was sentenced Friday to five years in prison with a three-year period of parole for assault in the second-degree unlawful administration of drugs and criminally negligent homicide in connection with the 2019 death of 23-year-old Elijah McClain.

He received one year on the criminally negligent homicide conviction that will run concurrent to the five years for the assault conviction.

Cichuniec, alongside his co-defendant Jeremy Cooper, was accused of administering an excessive amount of ketamine to sedate McClain after an encounter with police on August 24, 2019.

Cichuniec was found guilty of assault in the second-degree unlawful administration of drugs and criminally negligent homicide in the last set of criminal charges related to the McClain case tried by the Colorado attorney general.

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Cichuniec and Cooper were both acquitted of assault in the second degree with intent to cause bodily injury causing serious bodily injury. Cooper was found not guilty of assault in the second-degree unlawful administration of drugs.

They both had pleaded not guilty to their charges.

PHOTO: Paramedic Peter Cichuniec and his wife make their way to the courtroom in Brighton, CO, Dec. 1, 2023. (Philip B. Poston/AP)
PHOTO: Paramedic Peter Cichuniec and his wife make their way to the courtroom in Brighton, CO, Dec. 1, 2023. (Philip B. Poston/AP)

McClain was confronted by police while walking home from a convenience store after a 911 caller told authorities they had seen someone "sketchy" in the area.

McClain was unarmed and wearing a ski mask at the time. His family says he had anemia, a blood condition that can make people feel cold more easily.

When officers arrived on the scene, they told McClain they had a right to stop him because he was "being suspicious."

In police body camera footage, McClain can be heard telling police he was going home, and that "I have a right to go where I am going."

Officer Nathan Woodyard placed McClain in a carotid hold and he and the other two officers on the scene moved McClain by force to the grass and restrained him.

When EMTs arrived at the scene, McClain was given a shot of 500 milligrams of ketamine for "rapid tranquilization in order to minimize time struggling," according to department policy, and was loaded into an ambulance where he had a heart attack, according to investigators.

PHOTO: Paramedics Jeremy Cooper, left, and Peter Cichuniec, right, at an arraignment in the Adams County district court at the Adams County Justice Center Jan. 20, 2023.  (Andy Cross/medianews Group/the D/Denver Post via Getty Images)
PHOTO: Paramedics Jeremy Cooper, left, and Peter Cichuniec, right, at an arraignment in the Adams County district court at the Adams County Justice Center Jan. 20, 2023. (Andy Cross/medianews Group/the D/Denver Post via Getty Images)