Officials criticize report claiming MPD urged tranquilizer use on suspects

The Star Tribune has revealed that Hennepin County EMTs injected crime suspects — and some people where no crime was committed — with a tranquilizer at the behest of Minneapolis police even though they were already restrained.

The paper got ahold of a draft report from the Office of Police Conduct Review that was not public.

Sixty-two people were injected with ketamine last year, the Star Tribune says. Police officials reportedly have told officers to stop, the order coming about the same time as the draft report’s completion.

“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 states, according to the paper.

There’s danger in the practice because of its effects on breathing and heart function, according to the Star Tribune.

“Multiple videos showed individuals requiring intubation after being injected with ketamine, and [police] reports indicate that multiple individuals stopped breathing and/or their hearts stopped beating after being injected with ketamine,” the report said.

The police encounters that led to EMS using ketamine ranged from cases of obstruction of justice to jaywalking, according to the report. One man was dosed with ketamine while strapped to a stretcher and wearing a spit hood.

The report found that officers regularly instructed the medical staff to administer the ketamine.

“Between 2016 and 2017, MPD officers explicitly asked EMS to provide ketamine, either when calling for EMS services or upon arrival of the ambulance eight times,” states the report. “Also, MPD officers assisted EMTs while they injected individuals with ketamine” by physically holding them down while the EMS gave the shot. Many were in handcuffs, and some were in spit hoods.

Hennepin Healthcare dismissed the report and is defending the practice, saying the drug has fewer side effects and will save lives.

But the anecdotes in the report raise some pretty significant questions. Why is someone who was jaywalking injected with a drug? Why was a woman who was intoxicated, maced, not resisting arrest and handcuffed to a stretcher given the drug?

In the latter case, the woman had asthma and an EMS worker asked after the drug was administered what its effect would be on asthmatics.

A commenter to the post, who claims to work in a Twin Cities emergency room, defended the practice and says the first patient he saw injected with the drug had just broken the jaw of a paramedic.

“Articles like this do a disservice to the first responders and, as is popular lately, vilify cops. They also lead the reader to believe that these are simple problems with cut and dried solutions. Nothing could be further from the truth. The world is a messy, complicated and often violent place,” the commenter said.

That sentiment was somewhat echoed by Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo.

“There are significant faults with this draft report, and recklessly disseminating it to our communities is a disservice to those who not only rely upon receiving accurate information — but also put their trust in our police services,” he said in a statement. “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.”