Canadian coroners starting to reject excited delirium as cause of police-related deaths – CBC

North American doctors and psychiatrists are also questioning contentious explanation for sudden deaths

Apr 17, 2023

As a coroner’s jury takes their seats Monday in the inquest into the death of Myles Gray, they may hear arguments that his death was the result of something called excited delirium, and not the actions of Vancouver police officers.

Excited delirium has also been cited by Ottawa police officers in connection with the death of Abdirahman Abdi during a violent arrest, a coroner’s jury looking into a death in a New Brunswick jail, senior RCMP officers after the death of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver’s airport, and defence lawyers for the American officer who murdered George Floyd.

The highly contentious term describes a state of agitation, aggression and distress generally linked to drug use or mental illness, and it’s been used as an explanation for sudden, unexpected deaths during interactions with police.

It was one of several possible explanations given by a forensic pathologist for the death of Gray, an unarmed 33-year-old who died in 2015 after being handcuffed, hobbled, punched, kneed, kicked, pepper-sprayed and struck with a baton by several Vancouver officers. He was making a delivery for his florist business at the time, and police had been called after he confronted a homeowner for watering her lawn during an extended drought.

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