AURORA, Colo. — The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday denied the petition to dismiss charges faced by two former paramedics — Peter Cichuniec and Jeremy Cooper — in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain, the State Court Administrator's Office said on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Last week, attorneys for the two paramedics filed a petition with the Colorado Supreme Court that, if approved, could have resulted in the dismissal of the cases against the medics, as well as three former and current Aurora police officers.
Jury selection for the trial of Officer Randy Roedema and former Officer Jason Rosenblatt continued Monday in Adams County District Court. The trial is scheduled for four weeks.
The officers stopped McClain as he walked along an Aurora street, not breaking any laws, following a 911 call from a man who reported he seemed “sketchy” and was wearing a mask. The officers grabbed, subdued and restrained him during a struggle, and ultimately the paramedics administered a shot of Ketamine, a sedative. McClain’s heart stopped, and though he was initially revived he died three days later at a hospital.
Roedema, 41, remains suspended by the Aurora Police Department, and Rosenblatt, 34, no longer works there.
McClain’s death sparked public demands for accountability, and after then-District Attorney Dave Young of Adams County concluded no criminal charges would be filed, Gov. Jared Polis appointed state Attorney General Phil Weiser special prosecutor in the case.
Weiser then took the case to a statewide grand jury, which indicted Roedema, Rosenblatt, former officer Nathan Woodyard, and the two now-former paramedics, Cichuniec and Cooper.
The crux of the identical petitions filed by attorneys for the paramedics is that the duly elected district attorney – Young – declined to file charges and the attorney general didn’t have jurisdiction to take the case.
“With a finding that the proper procedures were not followed, these charges would be dismissed as the court would be without jurisdiction to hear these matters that were improperly brought … in violation of the defendant’s due process rights under the Colorado and U.S. Constitutions,” attorneys for the paramedics wrote in their petitions.
Lawrence Pacheco, a spokesman for Weiser, declined last week to comment.
The motions were filed under the rules governing appeals in Colorado. Known informally as a “Rule 21” petitions, they are rarely granted.
The Supreme Court had two options: It could deny the petition or issue what’s known as a “show cause” order. In that case, the Attorney General’s Office would have to show why the petition should not be granted and the charges dismissed.
The petitions were filed at 4:35 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13 by attorneys for Cichuniec, 50, and Cooper, 40. Attorneys for Roedema, Rosenblatt and Woodyard asked the court to allow them to join the appeal if the Supreme Court issued a “show cause” order.
Because the trial for Roedema and Rosenblatt proceeds, each is facing a sentence that could range from probation to 16 years in prison if convicted of the more serious charge, second-degree assault.
Another trial is scheduled to begin in mid-October for Woodyard, 34, on a charge of reckless manslaughter.
A third trial for Cichuniec and Cooper, each of whom faces charges of reckless manslaughter and three counts of second-degree assault, is scheduled to begin in late November.
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