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.