I am a retired police officer with a 17 year career, a Master use of Force Instructor, and I was shocked when I watched the body cam footage. I was shocked by the lack of the ability of the officers to recognize what appears to be a case of Excited Delirium, Excited delirium (EXD), also known as agitated delirium, is a controversial syndrome that presents with psychomotor agitation, delirium, and sweating. It may include attempts at violence, unexpected strength, and very high body temperature. Complications may include rhabdomyolysis or high blood potassium, shock and death. ED as most officers call it, is caused by extreme intoxication by stimulant usage. A full autopsy report on Floyd, after being restrained by Minneapolis police last month, reveals that he was positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The 20-page report also indicates that Floyd had fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system at the time of his death, although the drugs are not listed as the cause.
While I am not a medical expert, I am a Use of Force Expert, and trained to spot Excited Delirium. Does this excuse kneeling on his neck, absolutely not, however there are some circumstances we need to look at, did the officers know that Floyd was positive for COVID, if so that might explain why they did not use their hands to subdue him, but instead knelt on him.
While nothing excuses the “knee restraint” being used by the officer, it is just something that is not taught to officers. The knee restraint, heavy drug use, and ED likely together caused asphyxiation.
Written by Stephan Ball