Rachel Moran, School of Law Professor
Brandon Woller ’17/University of St. Thomas

In the News: Rachel Moran on New Police Training Regulation in Minnesota

Rachel Moran, professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, recently spoke with MinnPost about a new law banning the use of “excited delirium” in police training throughout the state.

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From the story:

Excited delirium refers to the description of a person’s state of extreme agitation, aggression, excitability and distress, sometimes in conjunction with drug use. The term has been widely used in the past by law enforcement, paramedics and medical examiners to describe people who had died in police custody. ...

In 2019, 23-year-old Elijah McCain, who was Black, was forcibly restrained and injected with ketamine by paramedics in Colorado. McCain died in their custody and the emergency responders cited excited delirium as the cause. Attorneys for the Minneapolis Police officers involved in George Floyd’s murder used the term in their legal defense as well.

Since then, more experts in the legal field are writing about why the use of the faulty diagnosis is problematic and rooted in racism, said Rachel Moran, founder of the University of St. Thomas School of Law’s Criminal and Juvenile Defense Clinic. As more states ban the use of the term and the public becomes more aware of its rejection by most major medical associations, the hope it will stop being used to justify deaths in police custody.

“I think it’s entirely possible that lawyers will be better equipped to explain why it’s not a real diagnosis, and some judges will just prevent people altogether from using this as an excuse,” Moran said. “The more awareness, the better.”