Jason Hiveley and Andrew Wolf recently obtained summary judgment in favor of a municipality and four of its officers in an important federal decision concerning the use of ketamine on individuals in police custody.
Just after midnight in the summer of 2015, Police were called to North Memorial Medical Center after a mentally unstable individual pointed a loaded firearm at hospital staff. Officers from multiple agencies, responded to the call and searched for the armed suspect. While searching, officers were confronted by an aggressive individual who remained combative and agitated throughout his interaction with police. For their safety, and the safety of the large crowd in the nearby emergency room, officers drew their firearms, had the individual lie down in the street, handcuffed him, and transported him to the hospital entrance where, at the direction of a medical doctor, a paramedic injected the individual with the anesthetic ketamine.
Plaintiff alleged that the officers used excessive force in detaining him and urged paramedics to inject him with ketamine in violation of his constitutional rights. In defense of the officers’ actions, Iverson Reuvers Attorneys moved for summary judgment, arguing the officers used no more force than necessary to detain the individual, and they could not be held responsible for the decisions of medical professionals on scene. The court granted summary judgment for the officers, finding their actions were reasonable and the individual’s “erratic behavior and remarks justified the force used.” The Court also determined the officers could not be held responsible for the medical decision to administer ketamine. The decision marks an important development in the emerging area of in-custody ketamine administration and makes clear that medical professionals—not law enforcement—are responsible for their own decisions.