Paramedic’s attorney asks court to dismiss charges against him in Elijah McClain case

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BRIGHTON, Colo. (KDVR) – A paramedic who is facing charges for his connection to the death of Elijah McClain has filed a court motion, asking for the 11 counts against him — including charges of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide — to be dismissed.

“The District Court is required to dismiss an indictment not supported by probable cause,” the motion, filed Dec. 16, said. “The evidence contained in the grand jury record does not provide probable cause to believe that Mr. Cichuniec committed the offenses brought under the indictment or any criminal offense as a result of his conduct on August 24, 2019.”

Peter Cichuniec was one of two paramedics who decided to sedate McClain with ketamine after the 23-year-old was involved in a rough police altercation during his walk home from the store in 2019.

McClain subsequently went into cardiac arrest and never regained consciousness.

An initial autopsy ruled the cause of McClain’s death to be undetermined.

The three police officers and two paramedics who had direct contact with Mcclain prior to his death are each facing a series of charges.

 In the motion to dismiss, attorney David M. Goddard, argued that a grand jury only indicted Cichuniec “under a complicity theory of liability as the record of evidence establishes that Mr. Cichuniec was not responsible for medical decisions on scene and did not administer any medication to Mr. McClain, thus the indictment lacks probable cause to indict Mr. Cichuniec as a principal actor.”

While a different paramedic, Jeremy Cooper, physically administered the ketamine to McClain, a 2020 FOX31 investigation found Cichuniec told an investigator that he made the decision to use the ketamine. He also told an investigator, during a recorded interview, that he had not previously administered the drug because it was a newer tool at Aurora Fire Rescue.

Cichuniec’s attorney argued there is no evidence to establish probable cause to believe that Cichuniec “knew that…Paramedic Cooper, was about to engage in conduct, in determining the need for and the amount of ketamine needed, that was a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise or that Paramedic Cooper was administering ketamine for any purpose other than a lawful medical or therapeutic purpose.” Goddard argued that Cichuniec’s conduct was “for a medical purpose and pursuant to the training provided and the protocols established by the Aurora Fire Rescue on August 24, 2019.”

The attorney general’s office responded to the motion by agreeing that Cichuniec is “entitled” to have the court review the grand jury materials “to determine whether there is probable cause” but requested that some arguments in the motion be excluded.

On Dec. 23, Hon. Priscilla J Loew, the district court judge presiding over the case, agreed to strike some of Cichuniec’s arguments from the record and agreed to proceed with a probable cause review.

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