Report: Police Blamed For Medics Tranquilizing Suspects

A draft report by a Minneapolis police oversight panel found that officers were asking medics to tranquilize suspects.

Minneapolis, MN – Police are accused of asking medics to tranquilize difficult suspects, and the police are catching the blame when medics did so.

The Office of Police Conduct Review did an investigation and has been circulating a draft of their report within City Hall, reported The Star Tribune, which obtained a copy.

The report found that Hennepin Healthcare EMS workers injected suspects of crimes, and other people who were restrained, in the presence of police, according to The Star Tribune.

Now police are catching the blame.

The Star Tribune reported that the ketamine that was administered caused heart or breathing failure in multiple cases, requiring those people to be medically revived.

The report also indicated that several people had needed to be intubated after the ketamine was given to them.

The report found that the number of ketamine injections documented during Minneapolis police calls increased from three in 2012 to 62 in 2017, including four uses on the same person, The Star Tribune reported.

Minneapolis Police Commander Todd Sauvageau announced a new general order that specifically addressed the issuance of sedatives on May 18. The department had no policy in the past, The Star Tribune reported.

The new policy said that officers “shall never suggest or demand EMS Personnel ‘sedated’ a subject. This is a decision that needs to be clearly made by EMS Personnel, not MPD Officers.”

Medics are permitted to administer ketamine to patients who are “profoundly agitated,” unable to be restrained, and a danger to themselves or others. However, the report found multiple instances where patients did not appear to fit that description, The Star Tribune reported.

“In many cases, the individual being detained or arrested was not only handcuffed, but strapped down on a stretcher in an ambulance before receiving ketamine,” the report said, raising concerns as to why people were being given the drug “given the immediate effects on breathing and heart function that the drug induces.”

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo would not comment on the specifics of the draft report but told The Star Tribune that it was responsible for changing his department’s directives regarding dealing with medical first responders.

“We have that in place now,” Chief Arradondo said. “That policy really defines and clarifies that we do not want our officers providing recommendations or suggestions to EMS personnel.”

“Our policy should be clear,” Mayor Jacob Fry told The Star Tribune. “Cops shouldn’t direct medical professionals on health-related issues, and medical professionals shouldn’t listen to them.”

Hennepin EMS Medical Director Jeffrey Ho and Minnesota Poison Control System Medical Director Jon Cole dismissed the findings of the report and told The Star Tribune that it was nothing more than a “reckless use of anecdotes and partial snapshots of interactions with police, and incomplete information and statistics to draw uninformed and incorrect conclusions.”

Kelly Spratt, chief ambulatory officer for Hennepin Healthcare, explained to The Star Tribune that ketamine has “fewer side effects than other drugs and can ultimately save lives.”

Spratt said the questionable incidents highlighted in the draft report accounted for only a small percentage of the times ketamine was used. He said his office has reviewed the draft and found errors, The Star Tribune reported.

One of the cases examined in the report involved a 911 call about a man who was having a mental health crisis.

The authors of the report claimed to have reviewed bodycam video of the incident, and said that four Minneapolis police officers and two EMS personnel who responded to the incident collectively decided to sedate the man.

The man did not want the shot and pleaded for it not to be given to him, according to the report.

But they injected the man two times anyway, and secured him to a chair.

“He just hit the K-hole,” an officer said when the man stopped making sense, using a slang term for the intense delirium brought on by ketamine, The Star Tribune reported.

When the man started waking up, the officer asked the medic how much more ketamine he had with him, the report said.

“I can draw more,” the medic told him.

“You’re my favorite,” another EMS officer replied, according to the report.

They injected him with another dose of ketamine, and then the man lost consciousness and stopped breathing, the report said. They were able to bring him back at the hospital.

“We have reviewed the four cases mentioned in the draft report that involve use of ketamine by Hennepin EMS and have concluded that those met the protocol and were medically justified,” Spratt told The Star Tribune.

Comments (13)
No. 1-13
Mrs10
Mrs10

Probably the best commentary to this story (can't remember if on here or a different site) was that medics are responsible for giving any meds that are given, and shouldn't do so just bc the cops ask. The comment ended with "a medic might ask me to pull out my gun and shoot someone but that doesn't mean I'm going to do it!"

kycopmom
kycopmom

As my mom used to say, "Would you jump off of a bridge if someone told you to"?. This is on the medics.

Helen Hendrickson
Helen Hendrickson

Would they rather have the suspect get loose and attack Emergency room staff? It has happened here in MN. Don't blame the cops!

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

It would be helpful if they clarified that medical personnel cannot be arrested, or threatened with arrest, for obstruction.

realDonaldTrump
realDonaldTrump

Was it horse tranquilizers? If not get some.

jgbooth56
jgbooth56

This is a terribly written article full of inconsistencies and half truths. The citizen's review panel is looking for a problem where there is none. To start with, Hennepin EMS / Hennepin Healthcare employs Paramedics for 911 responses. As a retired Paramedic of 34 years with this department, I have never had an officer "suggest" or "direct" me to administer any medications. It is also not uncommon to administer Ketamine to a restrained patient. This is done to prevent injury to the patient, bystanders, law enforcement and EMS. Ketamine is used more widely these days because of patients needing it. We're dealing with more agitated and violent patients every day.

Celtic Gyrl
Celtic Gyrl

Administration of ANY medication is the responsibility of the lead paramedic on the scene or by consultation with an ER doctor by radio. Period. Any EMS personnel who did so only at the behest of LEOs put not only the patient at risk but their own license and livelihood. Sadly, the use of sedatives has increased because the violence and resistance of apprehended suspects has risen. As a former ER nurse, I’ve seen violent offenders who were not sedated brought in for injuries they inflicted on themselves while in custody in order to claim police brutality. Until you face what our first responders do, don’t judge.

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

@CelticGyrl: you saw them inflict injuries on themselves or we're you merely told that is what happened?

Katarina
Katarina

I like the way Burgers Allday gives us a glimps of the way he thinks. I especially like the way he puts his thoughts out for the world to see. It is refreshing to see such transparency and honesty when posting completely biased opinions based on the desire to make LE look bad no matter if they are in control of the event or not. These are the same types of people who seek a position on civilian review boards where they can inflict as much damage as possible. It is not shocking to see such a board attempt to put blame on police for the conduct of a paramedic or EMT.

The Mayor had a very profound statment on the report: “Our policy should be clear,” Mayor Jacob Fry told The Star Tribune. “Cops shouldn’t direct medical professionals on health-related issues, and medical professionals shouldn’t listen to them.” It is sad to think that he doesn't have the wisdom to apply that same line of thought to police professionals. If you aren't one, you shouldn't be directing them on how to do their jobs.

Celtic Gyrl
Celtic Gyrl

@Burgers Allday: as a matter of fact I have witnessed such actions by suspects in custody. One in particular was banging his face and head against the metal screen between the front and back seats of the police car when they pulled up to the ER. I only speak to my experience.

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

@celtic Gyrl: did he break his own nose?

ragnarok1943
ragnarok1943

I worked in a hospital where severely agitated patients were given a doctor ordered B-52 shot (5mg Haldol and 2mg Ativan) but it usually took almost a half hour to work. Way back they used to use Droperidol which acted real quick but was discontinued because of some adverse effects around the Country. I had heard of ketamine being a recreational drug but did not know it was being used by EMTs for sedation. Good news if it works quicker than Haldol because some of the whacked out patients being brought into the ED need something that works fast. Haldol, by the way was invented by Paul Janssen of Belgium in 1958, the same chemist who invented Fentanyl about a year later. Better living through chemistry, except today fentanyl is being made in bathtubs and pigsties in China and shipped over to the US to unsuspecting heroin addicts.