Dozens of people were forcibly injected with ketamine, even if police had them handcuffed or strapped down.
Police in Minneapolis asked medical responders to inject people with ketamine, a powerful sedative, even if they were already restrained in handcuffs or strapped to a gurney, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
At times, responders administered ketamine to people who never committed a crime. Some of the interactions were captured on police body cameras.
The newspaper, which obtained a copy of the city’s civil rights review on the practice, wrote on Friday that police pressured EMS to inject victims as they begged them not to.
In some cases, the drug caused the victim’s hearts or breathing to stop, requiring intubation or other medical treatment to revive them.
The department’s own conduct manual categorizes ketamine as a powerful “date rape drug” — not just because it immobilizes victims, but can tamper with memory, even erasing victims’ recollections of their time on the drug. Ketamine is a sedative used medically in humans and animals and has a long history of recreational use.
The practice had been increasing, up from three injections in 2012 to more than 62 last year, even as there had been no policy regarding such injections. Earlier this year, before the report was made public, the department’s commander issued an order 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.”
Police also said the report was only a draft and should not have been released, as it lacked input from medical experts.
The Minnesota ACLU said such a drugging practice would amount to a “horrible abuse of power” if the report is accurate.
In a press conference late Friday afternoon, Dr. William Heegaard of Hennepin Healthcare explained it was in April when the county became aware of concerns by EMS workers, who at times felt pressured by police.
“I and our team are responding to a report we have not had access to, we’ve never read, we don’t know any of the details,” said Heegaard.
The Star Tribune obtained a draft report by the Office of Police Conduct Review. In it, findings reveal that officers have requested Hennepin County Medical responders to sedate people using ketamine—a powerful, fast-acting tranquilizing drug.
In a statement Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo called the draft report “inaccurate,” but did not go into specifics.
“This inaccurate draft report has the potential to tarnish much of the good work the men and women of the MPD, as well as our medical partners, do every day and night to save lives in our city,” said Chief Arradondo in the statement.
The health officials also called out some of the inaccuracies in the report.
“I want to emphasize that to the best of our knowledge we have no indication that anybody had a cardio respiratory arrest,” said Heegaard.
After reviewing the draft in May, Chief Arradondo made a policy change prohibiting officers from making suggestions or recommendations to EMS staff. At Hennepin Healthcare, an independent committee of the EMS Council will review its cases.
“We are very open to getting feedback and improving our care,” said Heegaard.
The committee of the EMS Council will ensure that medical appropriateness and professionalism is maintained.
As for the city’s report, officials say the public will be able to review the final documents once they are released.