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Police conduct report confirms ketamine used at request of Minneapolis cops

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The final version of a review of the Minneapolis Police Department's role in the injection of ketamine by paramedics on people was made public in a Minneapolis City Council committee meeting Thursday. Coverage of a leaked draft to the Star Tribune prompted outrage, as well as changes in the department's policy and the call for an outside review.

Last fall, the Minneapolis Office of Police Conduct Review began reviewing body camera videos of officers using force with people they detain or arrest.

Imani Jaafar, the director of the office, said they noticed a pattern.

"Staff, in that analysis period between winter 2017 and spring 2018, started to observe instances where individuals in police custody were injected with, what at that time to us, was an unknown substance," Jaafar said.

The substance was the sedative ketamine. Jaafar's office found out that ketamine was being injected into "profoundly agitated" people who needed to be taken to the hospital as part of a study by Hennepin Healthcare. And they found the study did not require any sign-off from the person until after the drug was used.

The police conduct office found eight instances in which officers gave an opinion or asked EMS employees to inject ketamine into people.

The city's civil rights director Velma Korbel said the review looked at whether Minneapolis police officers acted appropriately when they suggested people be injected with the sedative. Korbel said secondly, the review examined "if a medical study involving the injecting of ketamine was being conducted in Minneapolis, on Minneapolis residents, aided by Minneapolis employees, did leadership and policymakers know about such a study? If not, what should be done about it?"

The review concludes that the department should spell out when officers could take part in decisions to use ketamine. Minneapolis' police Chief Medaria Arradondo has prohibited officers from making medical suggestions.

After the draft was leaked, Hennepin Healthcare said it would stop all clinical studies where consent is waived.

Minneapolis Council member Steve Fletcher said he was concerned about the ethics of the hospital's study.

"So the idea that they were able to get clearance to do this kind of experimentation on the street seems extremely surprising to me and I really do want to hear a lot more about how that worked and how that played out," Fletcher said.

Michelle Gross with Communities United Against Police Brutality found the presentation and council's reaction Thursday missed the point.

"Those people are entitled to know that this happened and we haven't seen any movement on the part of the city or the county to let them know that they were victimized by this," Gross said.

Mayor Jacob Frey has said former Deputy U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates will conduct an external review of Minneapolis police and ketamine.

Council member Phillipe Cunningham questioned that decision.

"I just have concerns about spending money doing the work that our Civil Rights Department is already charged to do, and then not having enough money then afterwards to help validate that their work does have integrity," Cunningham said.

The details of Yates' contract and the extent of her review are still being negotiated.

Correction (July 28, 2018): An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the name of the group Communities United Against Police Brutality.