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Colo. medics under investigation for administering ketamine

Colorado’s public health department is conducting an investigation on the use of ketamine to sedate a man during a police altercation

By Laura French

DENVER — Colorado health officials are investigating the use of ketamine by paramedics to sedate a man during an altercation with police.

A spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment told FOX31 it is conducting an investigation into the August 2019 incident, during which Elijah McKnight, 25, was given two doses of ketamine totaling 750 mg by South Metro Fire Rescue medics.

McKnight was intoxicated and struggled with a sheriff’s deputy who approached him, according to FOX31, and was tased, handcuffed and held to the ground by three people. He allegedly kicked a deputy in the face during the struggle.

South Metro paramedics administered one 500 mg dose of ketamine, and another dose of 250 mg about nine minutes later after consulting with a physician.

Paramedics believed McKnight was experiencing excited delirium; EMS providers in Colorado are permitted to use ketamine for excited delirium with a waiver from the state health department.

Body camera footage obtained by FOX31 shows paramedics saying McKnight is alert and doesn’t need to be transported to the hospital. A deputy then asks if the paramedics can “give him anything” to which a medic replies they can give him ketamine and “he’ll be sleeping like a baby” but would need to be transported.

McKnight said he was in the hospital in ICU for several days after the altercation.

South Metro Fire Rescue Medical Director Dr. John Riccio told FOX31 in a previous interview that the medical crew “did the right thing” and that ketamine is safe and effective.

A spokesperson for South Metro Fire Rescue told FOX31 the department is also conducting a review of the case.