PREVENT IN-CUSTODY DEATH
In-Custody Death is one of the fastest growing topics and concerns worldwide. The topic is not new, but
the issue is being clouded by calls of excessive force and racism. In recent years a condition of Excited
Delirium has been blamed for most in-custody deaths. A medical condition closely related to drug use
and/or mental illness. Law Enforcement all over the world are reevaluating their policies related to
suspects and prisoners who are out of control and possibly suffering from Excited Delirium. I have been
a Police Officer for 16 years in the United States of America and have had someone die on my
handcuffs and shackles. It was determined the suspect’s heart stopped from an overdose of Cocaine
and Heroin. The suspect in my case was sweating profusely, had just jumped from a second story
window, landing on a wooden fence. He ran out into the street screaming and yelling and jumped on the
windshield of a Mini-van which was driving down the road. After falling off the moving van, he continued
to scream and yell as he ran down the road. When we arrived, he was screaming, sweating, and had a
crazy look in his eye. When he was confronted by an officer holding an ASP in his hand, he dropped
the ground and started fighting with the ground. I called medical, then we tried to restrain the subject.
Medical took what seemed like forever to arrive. While two officers were holding him down in a hog-tie,
prone position, handcuffed and shackled, he died. I later found out, this same incident with the same
person happened the day before. He was taken to the hospital and released hours later, only to come
back and start all over again. A citation for public intoxication from the day before was located in his
pocket. This is one story of many. Now that I know what I am looking for, I believe I have dealt with
several people suffering from Excited Delirium. I have spent the last ten years attending trainings and
conducting research on Excited Delirium trying to find common denominators and a way to prevent
death from Excited Delirium. Using my tactics, I believe I have sent several people to the hospital to be
evaluated for a medical condition rather than sending them to jail waiting for the condition to kill them.
THE ONE COMMON THREAD…………..THE STRUGGLE
What is the one common thread to all in-custody death? THE STRUGGLE Every case of in-custody
death I have come across involves a struggle. The struggle is most commonly with Police, but can also
be between family members long before Police arrive. What does this mean? We don’t know how long
the subject has been in crisis.
THE KEY TO PREVENTION…………..END THE STRUGGLE NOW!!!
The subject in most cases is overheating, with a core temperature of up to a 109 degrees, he can’t think
straight, he is delirious. He is overheating and still fighting. The epinephrine and nor-epinephrine levels
in his brain are increasing and he can’t control them, pushing him deeper into crisis. Law Enforcement
arrives and the only training we know kicks in. Secure the subject. Several Officers jump on the subject
and restrain him in a prone position hands and feet tied behind his back with one or two officers
kneeling on his back holding him in a position where we believe he poses the least amount of danger to
himself and other Officers. I believe this is actually increasing the crisis. Imagine two people sitting on
your back with your hands and feet tied together and you are feeling anxiety and panic. You already
can’t think straight and now you are really freaking out, feeling claustrophobic. We think he is in the
safest position while he waits for medical, he thinks he is going to die; meanwhile the epinephrine and
nor-epinephrine levels in his brain are going through the roof. Minutes go by, waiting for medical to
arrive, hopefully before the subject overdoses on his own chemicals and dies.
EXTEND THE WINDOW OF TIME WHILE WAITING FOR MEDICAL
Time is of the essence and EVERY second counts!!!! He needs medical attention but that can be a
long time away. He needs to be restrained in the most effective and least threatening position for his
limited ability to think at the time. The subject needs to be restrained a soon as possible and in a sitting
position, whether that is sitting up or lying on his side. A restraint needs to be used which can allow the
subject to be restrained within less than a minute The officers need to be taken out of the equation as
soon as possible. This means the subject is restrained and monitored from behind the subject, out of
direct view of the subject. The subject also experiences tunnel vision, so taking a position behind the
subject is important.
Getting the subject to the Hospital is important, Chemical sedation is the most commonly suggested
technique to prevent further crisis and death. We do not have the ability on the street to administer a
chemical sedation; we need to manage the crisis until a medical professional can make that call. We
need to put the subject in a position where he can naturally calm down. With the proper restraint and
restraint technique, we can take law enforcement out of the struggle, leaving the subject only to struggle
alone. It is my experience, once a person is restrained and placed in a position by themselves, where
they know they can breathe, and officer involvement related to the struggle has been discontinued and
relocated to behind the subject, the subject has the best chance at surviving.
After years of research and personal experience, I have come up with the only restraint on the market
which provides a quick and effective position for the subject. Some restraints are quick, but require the
subject to remain in a prone position. Others allow the subject to sit up, but take several minutes to
apply, time the subject does not have. The restraint I have developed allows the officers to apply the
restraint in seconds not minutes. Medical is able to evaluate the subject with removal of the restraint
and if subject needs to be transported in a police car instead of an Ambulance, the restraint straps the
subject to the seat in a seated up position without the ability to kick or bang his head.