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Colorado Department of Public Health to Investigate the Use of Ketamine by Paramedics to Sedate Elijah McClain

String players perform during a violin vigil for Elijah McClain in Washington Square Park on June 29, 2020, in New York City. McClain was a 23-year-old African American man who died while in police custody after he was stopped while walking home in Aurora, Colorado last August.
String players perform during a violin vigil for Elijah McClain in Washington Square Park on June 29, 2020, in New York City. McClain was a 23-year-old African American man who died while in police custody after he was stopped while walking home in Aurora, Colorado last August.
Photo: Byron Smith (Getty Images)

When it comes to the August 24, 2019 death of 23-year-old Elijah McClain, plenty has been said in condemnation of the Aurora, Colo., police officers who approached him while he was walking home and placed him in a chokehold, but not nearly as much is mentioned about the paramedics who administered the drug ketamine to sedate him. Well now, the state’s health department is launching an investigation into the use of the drug and its possible contribution to McClain’s death.

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From CBS News:

CBS Denver reports the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which grants individual agencies waivers to use the sedative ketamine and can look into complaints about its use, is now launching an investigation.

“The Colorado Department of Health and Environment received numerous complaints, beginning June 24th, that provided additional information regarding a ketamine administration in August 2019,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

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According to the Colorado Sun, “more than 100 agencies across Colorado have approval from the state to allow medics to use ketamine, an anesthetic, on people who show signs of what’s often dubbed ‘excited delirium,’” despite the fact that in 17 percent of those cases, the drug caused serious complications for the people it was administered to. Many medical professionals have criticized the practice.

From NBC News:

Fire and emergency medical services officials in the Denver suburb of Aurora have said a preliminary review found that medics’ actions on the night police detained McClain, 23, were “consistent and aligned with our established protocols.” But some medical and legal experts worry that ketamine — or any form of an anesthetic — raises too many unknowns and that it should not be used to subdue someone in a police action.

“Why anyone would be giving ketamine in that circumstance is beyond me,” said neuroscientist Carl Hart, chair of Columbia University’s psychology department. “The major problem here is we should never be ordering any medication, and no one should be taking or given it against their will.”

According to CBS, Mari Newman, the attorney representing Elijah McClain’s family, has echoed similar sentiments to that of Hart.

“The weaponization of any kind of medication used involuntarily against a person just trying to go home is very, very troubling and it absolutely needs to be addressed,” Newman said.

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She also said the investigation into the drug’s use on McClain is long overdue and that it shouldn’t have taken his death for health officials to look into the practice of administering it to people without their consent.

“They certainly should have looked into it long ago but I am glad they are doing it now,” Newman said. “It shouldn’t take millions of people across not just the country, but the world, speaking out and questioning the treatment of Elijah McClain before the government does what it should have done all along.”

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

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DISCUSSION

feministonfire
FeministOnFire

Can’t find my comment on the first post about his death but the administration of Ketamine seemed to be at the urging of the police and completely inappropriate. If the police, who are trained in restraint, couldn’t restrain him, why not?! If he was restrained by chokehold, why the drugs?! The whole thing seemed like just gleeful, murderous abuse... depraved indifference...and abuse of authority by both the police and EMTs against a person with a disability completely without cause. THAT’S why they all should go down, every person involved!