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What Happened To Fouad Kaady: Man killed by police possibly ill

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Man killed by police possibly ill

from the Oregonian

A Gresham man whose bizarre, violent behavior resulted in his being killed by police exhibited textbook signs of "excited delirium," a rare but often deadly medical condition associated with illegal drug use, mental illness or injury, experts say.

Fouad Kaady was naked, bleeding and standing atop a police car when officers shot him Sept. 8. Last week, a grand jury found no wrongdoing on the part of the officers when they killed the unarmed man, but some public criticism remains.

As a review of the case continues, experts say excited delirium --a condition many Oregon police agencies don't train for, including one involved in the shooting --could explain Kaady's actions.

Excited delirium is of growing concern to law enforcement internationally, particularly in connection with the rise in methamphetamine abuse. That drug, however, does not appear to have been involved in this case.

Canadian police have taken the lead in addressing this condition, developing a national training package on excited delirium and seeking funding for an epidemiological study of suspects who show such symptoms. Under new policies, the Victoria, B.C., police department now treats excited delirium cases as medical emergencies, rather than criminal episodes.

U.S. agencies are beginning to follow suit. The Oakland, Calif., police department recently adopted Victoria's training standards. And Canadian experts presented their findings at a police conference in Las Vegas this year.

In Portland, police training was revamped after the shooting of Jose Santos Victor Mejia Poot when he became uncontrollable at a mental health center in April 2001. The Portland Police Bureau reassessed how to deal with mentally ill subjects and provided officers with more crisis intervention training.

But the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, one of the departments involved in the Kaady shooting, offers no training about the condition.

"To be honest, I've never heard of this," said Sgt. Nick Watt, crisis intervention trainer for the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office. "It's not part of the training at Clackamas County. It sounds like something we ought to teach."

The Sandy Police Department, which also had an officer involved, did not respond to questions about training.

Officers not charged

Kaady, 27, was naked, growling and had shaken off high-voltage shocks from stun guns when he threatened to kill the officers, multiple witnesses said.

Deputy David E. Willard and Officer William J. Bergin shot the unarmed man seven times. A Clackamas County grand jury heard testimony from at least 40 witnesses and decided last week not to bring charges against Willard and Bergin. Both have returned to duty.

Kaady's family and friends bitterly criticized the decision and have retained Portland attorney Shannon Connall to represent them.

Kaady's family insists he had no history of mental illness and did not take hard drugs. They think his behavior was caused by the shock of being badly burned in a car wreck about a half-hour before the shooting.

Dr. Chris Young, deputy state medical examiner, told investigators he thought Kaady's behavior was caused by drug intoxication, and that there was a possibility of it being caused by shock. Asked by an investigator about excited delirium, Young said he was not aware of it, according to a Sept. 20 report.

Police have not determined a root cause of the incident, but "it sounds like the classic excited delirium, it really does," said Acting Inspector Darren Laur of the Victoria, B.C., police department. Laur has published research on the subject and is involved in a Canadian effort to improve training and to fund an epidemiological study of suspects who fight with police and show signs of excited delirium.

Suspects in the throes of excited delirium commonly display incredible strength, are impervious to pain, growl like an animal, are aggressive and take off their clothing because they become superheated.

"They are very, very warm," Laur said. "We had a guy in Victoria with a core temperature of 112 degrees. That's why these people will shed their clothing --they're so hot they're trying to cool themselves."

Researchers think excited delirium is associated with drug use, particularly cocaine and methamphetamine, or mental illness. Marijuana use combined with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia also has been linked to the condition.

Officials have confirmed that Kaady had traces of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in his system. Samira Kaady, his mother, said the family is awaiting additional toxicology reports.

Drug abuse and mental illness can result in large amounts of dopamine being released in the brain. Dopamine controls the body temperature and is one of the main neurotransmitters for the "fight or flight" response, according to Laur and medical researchers.

When officers try to take the person into custody, it typically takes numerous officers to overcome the suspect's strength and endurance, said Canadian police researcher Chris Lawrence.

Lawrence, defensive tactics supervisor at Ontario Police College, and others have called for changes in police training to address excited delirium. Among other ideas, they say paramedics should be called in immediately so it can be treated as a medical emergency.

If it's possible to back off and wait for additional officers and medics, police should do so, Lawrence said.

Dangerous situation

Victoria police are doing just that.

"The quicker we can control them and hand them over to medical personnel, the better," said inspector Laur. "Now if there's an arrest, we go through a checklist: Irrational, animal sounds, partly clothed --they don't come to a cell, they go to a hospital."

But treatment can't occur until the suspect is controlled, and that's difficult, Laur said.

"It puts police in a Catch-22 situation," he said. "It's extremely dangerous; they feel no pain. A lot of traditional control tactics won't work."

Reports make clear that Willard and Bergin, the officers who shot Kaady, were startled by his behavior and felt threatened.

"I just knew that if we were to get hands on with him in a physical fight, I mean, there would have been no stopping him," Bergin told an investigator. "I mean, he would have not, not felt anything."

Willard told an investigator he recalled thinking, "Oh my God, I'm Tasing this guy (with a stun gun) and he's getting up."

Based on a synopsis of the Kaady shooting, Laur said, it appeared Willard and Bergin "did everything they could to control that situation."

Laur declined to comment on the officers' use of lethal force but said withdrawing "may not have been an option."

He and Lawrence, of the Ontario Police College, said training must be "tweaked" to treat the cases as medical emergencies.

Such training in Oregon varies by department.

Cameron Campbell, director of training for the Department of Public Safety, Standards and Training in Monmouth, said new recruits receive three hours of mental health crisis intervention training during their 10 weeks of basic training at the academy.

Portland police officers receive an additional 20 hours of supplementary crisis training, said the bureau's crisis intervention coordinator, Officer Paul Ware.

Ware said the training includes how to recognize what the bureau calls "hyperstimulation and agitated delirium."

Gresham police training closely mirrors what Portland officers receive, including how to recognize and respond to excited delirium, Gresham spokesman Officer Grant McCormick said.

"We're telling our people to ask for more cover" when they confront people in such a state, Ware said. "Don't do the cowboy thing and go at it alone unless the fight comes to you."

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