The legal proceedings regarding Elijah McClain's death wrapped up this week, and the paramedics who killed him with an overdose of ketamine are going to jail. That's one of the best Christmas presents I could ask for. It's very rare for healthcare workers to be criminally charged when their stupid mistakes kill people, but they were so obviously and so much in the wrong this time that I've only seen three conservatives bitching about the verdict and blaming McClain for his own death. Do you realize how significant that is? You have to be a saint in order for conservatives to not think you deserve to die after a police encounter, and McClain was. He deserved to be killed about as much as Jesus did.
These convictions will be a game-changer. The Associated Press cautions that they "could have a chilling effect on first responders around the country." To that I say, good. First responders and all other healthcare workers damn well should be afraid to make a stupid mistake that kills someone. If they aren't, they need to choose a profession with more room for error. The obvious problem here was that Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec just didn't care enough to do their job correctly. Well, that and they had an obvious implicit bias against Black men that made them overestimate McClain's weight by almost sixty pounds. The International Association of Fire Fighters claims that this case "criminalized split-second medical decisions." To that I say, bullshit. Cooper and Cichuniec had more than ample time to communicate with McClain and check his vital signs. They didn't even have the ketamine with them when they showed up. But yes, if they had been paralyzed with fear of making a mistake and just not done anything, McClain would still be alive.
They injected him with ketamine because they thought he had "excited delirium." It is unfortunate that paramedics in this country are still being taught that "excited delirium" is a thing even though no legitimate medical institution recognizes it. Just the symptoms of this fictitious condition - superhuman strength, impervious to pain, sudden death - sound so stupid that I can't comprehend how any adult believes in it. But then, millions of adults still worship Donald Trump, so my opinion of the human race, or at least Americans, is obviously too high. Police supporters literally made up "excited delirium" to justify police killings of Black and Latino men in their custody. It's racist as well as stupid. California recently became the first state to ban listing it as a cause of death. Funny how I was raised to believe that California's progressives were the stupid ones.
It is most unfortunate that only one of the three police officers who assaulted McClain for no reason was convicted of anything. Roedema was found guilty because his statement "He's definitely on something," which exemplifies police officers' rampant bigotry against neurodivergent people, contributed to the paramedics' decision. Jason Rosenblatt was acquitted because, like the people at Nuremburg, he was just following orders. Nathan Woodyard, the first police officer who assaulted McClain, was somehow acquitted of everything even though he had no legal justification for stopping McClain, he acknowledged in court that he did everything against his training and needlessly escalated the situation from the first moment, and the paramedics would never have been there in the first place if he had minded his own damn business. So he has his job back. I hope he never has a good night's sleep again. After those acquittals, I was ready to go burn something down if the paramedics were also acquitted. The whole point of having separate trials was so that each person or duo could throw everyone else involved under the bus. If our legal system had determined that nobody was at fault, it would be beyond saving.
So anyway, Merry Christmas. I do mean that, though I don't have much to add.
I could rehash my angst over the uneven distribution of suffering in the world and my powerlessness to do anything about it and how that challenges my conception of God as anything but an apathetic observer every time something awful like the current situation in the Middle East happens, but that would get old fast, wouldn't it? I'll just say I don't like it. That's inadequate, but so would be anything else I might say. Everyone needs to just get along. Nothing that either side has done justifies committing torture and rape and genocide against civilians on the other side. That, for some reason, is something that many people actually need to be reminded of. And that goes for anywhere. As much as most of the world would be better off right now without Russia in it, I wouldn't support Ukrainian crimes against humanity either. Fortunately, that's not their style. Russia, on the other hand, might have actually won by now if it focused on military targets instead of hospitals, schools, apartment buildings, and supermarkets.
But I've had some luck, or blessings depending on your perspective. I think of it as luck because I can't think why God should concern himself with these details of my life while doing nothing discernible to help the victims of torture and rape and genocide, but to each their own. I started therapy a few weeks ago and eventually I'll write a whole post about that. I get it the same way I get my haircuts; cheaply from an unlicensed student. I think she's doing a fine job, but at a bare minimum, she's a captive audience. It feels so good to have someone who listens to me so much and acts like she cares about me so much. I knew it would, and I assumed I would consequently develop unprofessional feelings for her, and I almost tried to get a different therapist because of that, but I realized that would basically be discrimination, so I decided it was my own problem that I'd just have to deal with, but it hasn't been an issue at all. It's just been great - dare I even say, therapeutic.
I also found an artist to illustrate my book cover, after my first five choices didn't work out. That's a big relief. A mutual friend recommended him to me, and he consequently gave me a discount. I hate spending money, but this is a very important investment since people will, after all, judge my book by its cover. I can't wait until I have some early designs to show.
And then, I guess this doesn't concern me directly, but it hits close to my heart. I feel a connection to him because I'm also neurodivergent and I've also been abused by dumbass cops, but I strongly suspect that my situation turned out different because I don't have the same skin color. I've had him as my Facebook picture for quite some time, with the intention to leave him up until his killers were brought to justice. This past week, the two cops who joined in the scuffle after the first cop assaulted him got their verdicts. Randy Roedema guilty, Jason Rosenblatt not. As much as I'd like to see them both hanging from lampposts, the different verdicts are a good sign that the jury did its due diligence. The one found not guilty was already the only one of the three cops who had been fired, not because of McClain's death, but because he responded "Ha ha" to a picture that three other cops, also fired or resigned, took at the sight of McClain's death to mock McClain's death. Yeah, cops freaking suck. Normally he could just go work at any other police department in the country, but hopefully he's gotten enough bad press that even they won't touch him.
Now the trial for Nathan Woodyard, the cop who stopped and assaulted Elijah McClain for "looking sketchy" in the first place, is underway. And there's no way in hell he won't be found guilty, because it's an established fact that he had no legal basis for the stop. I hope these convictions will send a message to cops everywhere to fuck off the next time they're thinking of harassing someone with no legal basis. And then there's the almost-unprecedented trial for the paramedics who, without making any attempt to communicate with McClain or evaluate his health, overestimated his weight by eighty pounds and injected him with a fatal overdose of ketamine. I honestly hope they get the stiffest sentences of all, and that it sends a message to healthcare workers everywhere that a. they are not law enforcement agents and b. Black people do not have a completely different physiology from white people. I had a negative experience with healthcare workers too, and I don't have much respect for them either. It blows my mind how people whose literal job is to care about people's health and safety can be so callous and apathetic. Anyway, these trials are off to a good start. And it only took over four years. I wonder how long it would take me to go to court if I killed someone.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.