The term "excited delirium" has been used for years to help police officers who kill civilians to escape proper accountability for their actions. It's a pseudoscience term that refers to people who become - understandably - distressed when subjected to police violence.
When coroners and medical examiners list this as an official cause of death, it effectively gives police cover by implying confusion about who or what actually killed someone in police custody.
Now California has become
the very first U.S. state to ban the use of "excited delirium" as an official cause of death, pushing coroners and medical examiners to actually do their jobs properly and list out the true reasons for a civilian's death.This is a fantastic step forward towards accountability for police, racial justice, and general human rights. All other U.S. states must follow suit!
California lawmakers aren't the only people speaking out. Civil rights and human rights groups across the U.S. have been decrying this diagnosis - and now, so are medical organizations. The American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, and even the National Association of Medical Examiners have all come out against using this term as a cause of death.
As the American Medical Association correctly notes, history has shown a pattern of this term being used as "justification for excessive police force, disproportionately cited in cases where Black men die in law enforcement custody."
In fact, this diagnosis has featured prominently in many highly-publicized cases of police violence. For example, at the scene where George Floyd died after an officer pushed a knee onto his windpipe for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, one officer's body camera footage captured audio of him referencing "excited delirium or whatever" as a factor in the brutality."Excited delirium" is not a real thing. It is not science.
And it is not a true cause of death - especially when the real cause of death is someone asphyxiating a man lying on the ground, putting a civilian in a chokehold, injecting them with ketamine or other substances, shooting a person, or any number of other ways police officers inflict deadly terror on BIPOC people in the U.S.It's a relief that California is finally addressing this and, as a result, taking steps towards holding police accountable. Now other states must do the same. Sign the petition to demand that all other U.S. states ban "excited delirium" as an official cause of death!