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.
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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.