Hennepin Healthcare, Minneapolis Police respond to draft report on ketamine use on subjects

The Minneapolis Police Chief and Hennepin Healthcare are sending out a response after a draft report from a city office stated some officers have repeatedly asked EMTs to sedate people with a tranquilizer drug.

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 is 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.

“We found out in April, through concerns that our EMS were concerned about maybe some pressure or discussion that police may have been asking us to administer ketamine,” said Heegaard.

The investigation by the city found that the number of injections jumped from three in 2012 to 62 last year.

The dose at times caused heart or breathing failure and in some cases people had to be revived or intubated. At times, responders administered ketamine to people who never committed a crime. Some of the interactions were captured on police body cameras.

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.