A coalition of civil rights groups called Tuesday for Minneapolis police to be disciplined or otherwise held accountable for urging paramedics to sedate people with ketamine.
About two dozen people held a rally at Minneapolis City Hall to voice concerns over the ketamine reports, and to ask for an out-of-state investigator with no ties to Minnesota law enforcement to examine the cases. They also want information released about the people being drugged — including race, age and gender — and for those people to receive compensation.
"We find the incidents surrounding the use of ketamine on individuals to be absolutely egregious and unacceptable," said Nekima Levy-Pounds, an attorney and 2017 mayoral candidate. "As you all know, we have had a series of high-profile events over the last several years involving the Minneapolis Police Department that have undermined and eroded the public trust."
The rally came in response to accounts of police officers asking paramedics to use the powerful sedative on members of the public, which were documented in a draft report from the city police oversight office. The Star Tribune obtained a copy of the report.
The report questioned the use of ketamine in cases where people were already restrained or didn't appear to be dangerously combative, as well as raising concerns that police were too involved in decisions about emergency medical treatment.
"Right now, we don't have the full picture of everything that's happened, so it is critical that we have as many details as possible released as soon as possible in the name of transparency," said Teresa Nelson, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota. "Medical decisions need to be left to medical professionals — not police officers."
The rally comes a day after the mayor and a group of City Council members announced separate investigations into the ketamine cases. Neither have named who will conduct the probes.
"We're not going to stand for a local agency, organization or individual," said Levy-Pounds, even if that means protesting outside Mayor Jacob Frey's office "on a regular basis."
Council President Lisa Bender said the council will remain engaged on this issue: "Having strong civilian oversight of the police is critical to rebuilding community trust, and we need to be accountable and ready to answer questions about race equity in this and all interactions with our police department."