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Minneapolis police regularly used ‘date rape drug’ on people in custody, report finds

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.

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 60 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.”

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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.

Hennepin Healthcare, the company that administers the EMS program, has initiated its own review but stands by the practice. “Last year, ketamine sedations were used on 0.095 percent of our 81,500 EMS calls for service,” the company said in a statement Friday.