The family of a 29-year-old Colorado woman who died after a paramedic injected her with ketamine is suing one of the largest ambulance companies in the country, alleging the paramedic never should have given her the powerful sedative in the first place.
Jerica Lacour died Jan. 11, 2018, after a paramedic working for American Medical Response in Colorado Springs gave her ketamine, according to the lawsuit filed Thursday in El Paso County District Court.
The use of ketamine outside of hospitals has been under scrutiny in Colorado since the 2019 death of Elijah McClain in Aurora. McClain died in police custody after he was administered a too-large dose of the drug.
State lawmakers in 2021 passed a bill that set parameters for using ketamine in the field and a panel of experts found that it can be used safely, though they recommended more guidelines on its use.
The paramedic in Colorado Springs, Jason Poulson, on Jan. 11, 2018, responded to the scene of a distressed person along with a Colorado Springs police officer, an EMT with American Medical Response and two firefighters. Lacour was lying on the asphalt and sobbing uncontrollably when the officials arrived, according to the lawsuit. She was not combative or violent, the lawsuit states.
The first responders placed Lacour on a gurney, strapped down her limbs and placed a spit hood over her head, the lawsuit states, citing body camera footage. Poulson then said he was going to give Lacour ketamine and one of the firefighters at the scene said he should not.
Poulson injected Lacour with ketamine and Lacour stopped breathing shortly after, according to the lawsuit. Lacour was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital, where a doctor pronounced her dead.
Poulson should not have injected Lacour with ketamine because she was neither violent nor met the definition of excited delirium, the lawsuit states.
“Nearly every decision Defendant Poulson made on Jan. 11, 2018, fell below the standard of care of a reasonable paramedic,” the lawsuit states.
A spokesman for American Medical Response declined to comment on the lawsuit and said the company does not speak on pending litigation.
Lacour left behind five children, whose current ages range from 7 to 12 years old.