Colorado is set to join California in banning the term "excited delirium," a move that could set a crucial precedent in policing. The term, often used to justify excessive force, including deadly encounters, has been widely discredited and lacks scientific support. California took the lead by prohibiting any mention of excited delirium in official reports and court cases, and now, Colorado is considering a similar measure.
High-profile cases like the tragic deaths of Elijah McClain and George Floyd drew attention to the problematic use of this term. McClain, a young Black man from Aurora, died after a violent police encounter and the administration of ketamine by paramedics, with excited delirium initially listed as the cause on his autopsy report.
In a significant move, the American College of Emergency Physicians rescinded a 14-year-old paper supporting excited delirium, making it clear that this is not a valid medical or psychiatric diagnosis. Despite this, the term is still used in law enforcement training in Colorado and to explain deaths in police custody.
State Representative Judy Amabile is taking action to address this issue by introducing a bill to prohibit the use of excited delirium in police training and coroners' reports.
"We know this is junk science and we have to stop using it," says State Rep. Judy Amabile.
Amabile advocates for a shift towards understanding the actual circumstances of individuals and employing appropriate strategies, especially in cases involving people experiencing psychosis or substance influence, disproportionately affecting young Black men.
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