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Little known syndrome often blamed in fatal police struggles

AUSTIN, Texas — A newspaper review of people in Texas who have died in police custody since 2005 reveals that a common cause of death is something called excited delirium.

The review by the Austin American-Statesman shows that of the 289 nonshooting deaths since that year, more than 1 in 6 have been attributed to excited delirium, which features high levels of adrenaline.

In many cases, people died after violent, extended struggles with police. Fourteen were shocked by Tasers before they died.

Critics say a finding of excited delirium obscures police actions that may have contributed to a person’s death.

Law enforcement and emergency responders say it’s a real syndrome that requires decisive action and quick medical treatment.

Minority men are disproportionately represented among those who die by excited delirium in police custody.


Information from: Austin American-Statesman,

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