In a groundbreaking move, California has become the first state to outlaw the use of “excited delirium” as a medical diagnosis, a term often invoked to absolve police in cases of excessive force leading to fatalities. On October 8, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill that restricts the utilization of this term in death certificates, autopsy reports, police incident reports, or civil court testimonies, effective January 2024.
The term has a murky history, often cited in legal defenses to justify sudden deaths during police encounters, as seen in the notorious cases of George Floyd, Daniel Prude, and Angelo Quinto. This controversial diagnosis has been disproportionately applied to Black men in custody, masking the actual cause of death and potentially exonerating culpable officers.
The ban resonates with the nationwide discrediting of “excited delirium” by major medical associations, acknowledging the term’s misuse and the urgent need for its abolition. This change not only reflects a growing awareness but also a significant stride in holding law enforcement accountable, making it a pivotal moment not just for California but for the entire nation.
The fight for justice and transparency is far from over, but this legislation marks a crucial step towards dismantling harmful narratives that have perpetuated injustice for far too long. Through collective efforts and informed legislative actions like this, we inch closer to a just and accountable system.
Campaign Zero commends California’s decisive action and continues to work tirelessly to advocate for systematic reforms, ensuring such misleading and harmful practices find no place in our justice system.