The family of a Colorado mother who died after a paramedic injected her with ketamine is suing the nation’s largest ambulance service for giving her the powerful sedative.
Jerica LaCour died in January 2018 after police, firefighter and emergency personnel responded to a call of an intoxicated woman walking around a parking lot in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The mother of five was a housewife, according to her obituary. Her family has filed a lawsuit against American Medical Response Ambulance Service and paramedic Jason Poulson. Reports show Lacour was lying on the ground sobbing uncontrollably when first responders arrived and Poulson gave her the deadly shot. The complaint was filed on behalf of her minor children.
“My wife was taken out of here for no reason,” Anthony Lydell LaCour told NBC News. “I think about her every day, every night and when I dress our kids.
“I take it very, very hard,” he continued before breaking into sobs. “Me and my wife were really close.”
The lawsuit comes a little over a month after a medical examiner in another part of Colorado issued a report updating Elijah McClain’s cause of death. The Sept. 23 autopsy report showed McClain received an excessive dose of the ketamine after being held in a chokehold and restrained by police in Aurora, Colorado. The 23-year-old massage therapist and musician went into cardiac arrest and died at a nearby hospital in August 2019.
LaCour, 29, reportedly died immediately after receiving the shot. Medical examiners said the woman’s death was caused by “respiratory arrest associated with acute alcohol and ketamine intoxication,” with other contributing factors including “cardiomegaly, cardiac fibrosis, obesity, and recent cocaine ingestion.”
McClain’s death, more than a year later, prompted lawmakers to restrict the use of ketamine in emergency calls. Aurora Fire Rescue officials announced in April 2021 that the city would no longer use the drug outside of a hospital.
FOX12 analysis of Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment records shows 5.28 percent of cases involving pre-hospital ketamine administrations for extreme agitation in 2018 involved one or more complications. By 2019 the complication rate was 24 percent.
A study of 11,291 patients who received ketamine primarily for pain or agitation control published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine found that the sedative may have contributed to 2 of 8 on-scene deaths.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill into law in July 2021 that prevents law enforcement from directing emergency management technicians to administer the drug. It also sets criteria for EMTs to use the drug outside a hospital setting.
LaCour’s family claims Poulson give the mother 400 milligrams of ketamine over objections from a firefighter. Poulson has been banned from practicing emergency response in Colorado since December 2021.
The paramedics involved in McClain’s death have also been stripped of the rights to practice in the state and are facing manslaughter and negligent homicide charges, among other offenses. McClain was 140 pounds and should’ve received 315 milligrams of ketamine. Three police officers are also facing charges in connection to his death.
The state’s health department issued guidance in December against using ketamine for erratic behavior. The drug has been used in many cases to treat excited delirium. However, a recent report by a group of Harvard doctors shows the syndrome is based on a racist stereotype of Black superhuman strength and has no medical basis.