“Excited delirium” one step closer to being banned in Colorado

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This week, Colorado legislators agreed that it might be time for the controversial term to finally die.

DENVER — Colorado moved one step closer this week to becoming only the second state in the country to ban use of the controversial term “excited delirium” in police training manuals and autopsy reports.

Tuesday, the Colorado House Judiciary committee – on an 8-3 vote – voted to keep alive the “excited delirium” ban. The decision follows a yearlong investigation by 9NEWS.

House Bill 1103 would effectively prohibit officers from training on the term as well as prohibit coroners from naming “excited delirium” as the cause of someone’s death. One of the sponsors of the bill, Rep. Judy Amabile (D-Boulder) credits 9NEWS reporting for her decision to bring the legislation forward.

9NEWS has tied the term to more than 225 deaths across the United States since 2010. Those deaths include the high-profile death of Elijah McClain here in Colorado, as well as the less publicized Colorado deaths of people like Alex Gutierrez in Adams County in 2017.

>Watch the full 9NEWS documentary about the use of “excited delirium” below:

Long used by coroners and law enforcement officers to explain sudden deaths of individuals following oftentimes violent restraint, “excited delirium” has recently fallen out of favor by multiple medical organizations. In 2023, for example, the American College of Emergency Physicians distanced itself from the term after intense internal pressure from ACEP members like Dr. Brooks Walsh.

“I believe that [9NEWS] coverage had a significant role in pushing historic policy changes this past October,” said Dr. Walsh late last year.

In addition, in late 2023 and acting on 9NEWS’ investigation, Colorado’s Peace Officers Standards and Training Board dropped a requirement that all new officers be trained on “excited delirium.”

The move by the House Judiciary Committee was a critical first step in banning the term outright. 

Last year, California became the first state in the country to do so following the high-profile death of Angelo Quinto.

Illinois and Hawaii are currently considering similar bans.

SUGGESTED VIDEOS: 9NEWS Originals

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“Excited delirium” one step closer to being banned in Colorado

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