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What Happened To Fouad Kaady: Kaady death should spur a public inquest

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Kaady death should spur a public inquest

from the Oregonian

Finally, a plausible explanation has emerged for the bizarre --and terrifying --behavior Fouad Kaady displayed Sept. 8, before he was shot and killed by a Sandy police officer and a Clackamas County sheriff's deputy. On Sunday, The Oregonian's Eric Mortenson and Stuart Tomlinson reported on their hypothesis, backed up by their own research, that Kaady may have been suffering from something called "excited delirium."

Although no one knows for sure, and it's not clear what might have triggered the condition, the explanation seems to fit what the 27-year-old Gresham High School graduate did that day. In tearing off his clothes, growling like an animal and pressing forward, unfazed, after absorbing high-voltage shocks from stun guns, Kaady mirrored textbook symptoms of this mental breakdown.

It's not a well-known phenomenon, but some law enforcement agencies (notably in Canada) are starting to wise up about it, train for it and treat it as a medical emergency, not a criminal problem. Police are seeing it more because it can be triggered by methamphetamine use, although there's no indication that this drug played a part in Kaady's case. In the hours before he died, though, Kaady's strange behavior gave rise to at least a dozen 9-1-1 calls.

Some people who saw him that day were worried; others terrified. No one who reported on his behavior could have envied the Sandy police officer and Clackamas County sheriff's deputy who actually had to confront Kaady. A Clackamas County grand jury exonerated the officers last week of any criminal misconduct, but that won't eliminate questions about this shooting. Neither will the reviews planned by the two law enforcement agencies involved.

No, those efforts won't be enough. Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote should hold a public inquest, similar to the one Multnomah County District Attorney Michael Schrunk held into a Portland police shooting. Pinning down what was wrong with Kaady is important, but the larger question is whether officers could have handled this case differently. A public inquest offers the best hope of illuminating what happened.

In the Kaady case, it's not only Kaady's family and friends who deserve a public inquest. The two officers involved deserve to tell their side of the story to the public, too.

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