Ex-Paramedic Who Injected Elijah McClain Hears His Fate

Jeremy Cooper sentenced to 4 years' probation, 14 months of work release for administering ketamine
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 27, 2024 8:30 AM CDT
Ex-Paramedic Who Injected Elijah McClain Hears His Fate
Former paramedic Jeremy Cooper, who injected Elijah McClain with ketamine before his death, speaks in court during his sentencing on Friday in Brighton, Colorado.   (ABC NewsOne/Pool via AP)

A former paramedic who injected Elijah McClain with a powerful sedative avoided prison Friday and was sentenced to 14 months in jail with work release and probation in the killing of the Black man that helped fuel the 2020 racial injustice protests. Jeremy Cooper, 49, had faced up to three years in prison after being found guilty in a jury trial last year of criminally negligent homicide, per the AP. He administered a dose of ketamine to McClain, 23, who'd been forcibly restrained after police stopped him as the massage therapist was walking home in a Denver suburb in 2019. The sentencing caps a series of trials that stretched over seven months and resulted in the convictions of a police officer and two paramedics. Criminal charges against paramedics and emergency medical technicians involved in police custody cases are rare.

Cooper, who was fired after his conviction, was sentenced to four years of probation, including 14 months in jail under a program that will allow him to leave for work and return to jail at night and on weekends, said Lawrence Pacheco with the Colorado Attorney General's Office. He'll also need to complete 100 hours of community service. The sentence begins June 7, per the Denver Post. The other paramedic involved in McClain's death received a more severe punishment after being convicted on an additional charge of felony assault. Judge Mark Warner said evidence showed Cooper didn't purposely give McClain a ketamine overdose, rejecting claims by prosecutors that the paramedic had acted with indifference. Experts say the convictions would have been unheard of before 2020, when George Floyd's murder sparked a nationwide reckoning over racist policing and deaths in police custody.

At least 94 people died after they were given sedatives and restrained by police from 2012 through 2021, according to findings by the AP, in collaboration with Frontline (PBS) and the Howard Centers for Investigative Journalism. McClain's mother told the judge prior to Friday's sentencing that she blamed her son's death on everyone who was present that night, not just those who were convicted. Sheneen McClain said Cooper "did nothing" to help her son after he'd been restrained by police—didn't check his pulse, didn't check his breathing, and didn't ask him how he was doing—before injecting him with an overdose of ketamine. She later told reporters that she wasn't expecting much from the trials and wasn't surprised Cooper avoided prison time. "The only closure it brings me is that this [expletive] is over," she said after the sentencing, per the Post. "I'm done with that." More here.

(More Elijah McClain stories.)

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