Minneapolis Police Order EMS Workers To Sedate Suspected Criminals With Ketamine

They were already restrained.

Jun 27, 2018
a bottle of ketamine

Photo by Brent Lewin/Bloomberg/Getty Images

A new report from Minneapolis found that some of the city’s police officers asked EMS workers to administer the anesthetic drug ketamine to suspects of crimes, even though they were already restrained, according to the Star Tribune. This has occurred multiple times over the past three years.

While the report hasn’t been made public in its entirety, the Star Tribune obtained a copy and published excerpts, including one part that reads: “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 also specifies that as a result of receiving doses of ketamine, “multiple individuals stopped breathing and/or their hearts stopped beating.” The report was the result of an investigation from a division of Minneapolis’ Department of Civil Rights, the Office of Police Conduct Review.

While ketamine is approved for medical use as an anesthetic, it’s often abused as a recreational drug. In small doses, it increases one’s heart rate. This is why it is a popular party drug, often used in clubs and raves. But at larger doses, ketamine can produce a dissociative effect between one’s mind and body, a sense of numbness, an inability to move, and hallucinations. When people reach this state of extreme sedation, it’s colloquially known as being in a “K-hole.” Interestingly, ketamine is also becoming increasingly popular as a treatment for major depression and suicidal thoughts, but it’s administered in clinics. 

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A piece of police tape is strung across North Camden Street on June 24, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

As the Star Tribune reports, the individuals given the ketamine by EMS workers in Minneapolis were found to have required “intubation after being injected,” due to its sedative effects. Between the years of 2016 and 2017, officers from the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) asked the local EMS to administer ketamine eight times, according to the report.

Last year, there were 62 documented instances of ketamine administration during the MPD’s responses to calls of potential crimes. These potential crimes ranged from obstruction of justice to jaywalking, according to the Star Tribune.

The report also detailed one instance where an intoxicated woman who had been sprayed with mace and handcuffed to a stretcher requested an asthma pump from the police but instead was administered ketamine. One of the EMS workers recorded on a body camera video could reportedly be heard asking what affect ketamine has on asthmatics.

According to the Star Tribune, police commander Todd Sauvageau has since made a departmental order that police officers not “suggest or demand” EMS workers sedate people suspected of a crime, stating that this decision must be made independently by the EMS.

Jun 27, 2018