Coroner rules Berniquez’s death accidental
Published Monday, December 17, 2012 8:19PM EST
A coroner has ruled that Michel Berniquez’s death was accidental, after he died nine years ago after being restrained by six police officers.
In a report released Monday, it was determined Berniquez, 45, was high on cocaine and methamphetamines at the time of the incident.
He was acting erratically in a Montreal North depanneur in 2003 and wouldn’t pay his bill, when he got into a fight, leading the need for six officers to restrain him.
At the time of the incident, Berniquez punched one of the police officers in the face and attempted to grab his nightstick. The officers wrestled him to the ground, when he went into cardiac arrest.
Coroner Andrée Kronström concluded the drug use led to a state of excited delirium.
The syndrome has only been recognized since 2009, and is often characterized by heart palpatations and an insensitivity to pain.
The condition is typically associated with drug use and has been linked to heart attacks.
In 2003, police had not yet been made aware of excited delirium, and were not trained in how to treat someone in that state.
Kronström ruled in his report that that led to Berniquez’s death.
A new protocol has been in place since 2011 when dealing with someone in a state of excited delirium; police are trained to restrain the attacker, then call paramedics to apply sedatives.
Kronström said today’s protocol may have saved Berniquez’s life, but that in 2003 the death was difficult to avoid because of the relative obscurity of excited delirium.
Anti-police brutality groups call the coroner’s findings disappointing, arguing that it was clearly a case of police brutality.