Julia Sherwin of Haddad & Sherwin LLP Co-Authors Physicians for Human Rights Report Debunking Excited Delirium

OAKLAND, Calif., March 02, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Civil rights law firm Haddad & Sherwin LLP announced today that partner Julia Sherwin has co-authored a Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) report that debunks the junk science theory of “excited delirium.” The report, entitled “Excited Delirium and Deaths in Police Custody: The Deadly Impact of a Baseless Diagnosis” is also co-authored by Dr. Altaf Saadi, Instructor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School; Joanna Naples-Mitchell, JD, PHR U.S. Researcher; Dr. Michele Heisler, PHR Medical Director; and Dr. Brianna da Silva Bhatia, Internist.

Excited delirium arises as a defense in criminal and civil rights cases involving restraint asphyxia deaths in law enforcement custody, similar to the death of George Floyd. All four Minneapolis Police officers involved in George Floyd’s murder introduced “excited delirium” as a defense in the criminal cases against them. Even New York Attorney General Letitia James promoted the junk science theory when she empaneled a grand jury to review the death of Daniel Prude in Rochester, New York. Predictably, the grand jury declined to issue any indictments against the officers who killed Mr. Prude.

The PHR report summarizes the racist and sexist roots of excited delirium -- as documented through Sherwin’s many years of investigation of the theory and litigation to defeat it on behalf of the families of victims of restraint asphyxia and Tasing by law enforcement -- as well as TASER International’s1 role in promoting the theory.

After conducting an in-depth review of the medical literature discussing excited delirium, the physician co-authors conclude in the report that excited delirium is not a valid medical or psychiatric diagnosis, and no deaths should be attributed to excited delirium.

Sherwin says, “This report confirms what we have known for years. Excited delirium is junk science propaganda peddled by TASER/Axon and experts paid to defend the company or police officers when people die after being Tased or restrained. I am honored that Physicians for Human Rights has asked me to co-author this landmark report.”

Haddad & Sherwin LLP has represented the families of victims killed by law enforcement since 1998, and has handled several cases, going back nearly two decades, in which excited delirium was at issue. For many years, Julia Sherwin has devoted extensive time to teaching lawyers, reporters, forensic pathologists and other physicians about the junk science nature of excited delirium. She consulted with Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and his team of lawyers prosecuting the Minneapolis police officers who killed George Floyd, to help them win their case and defeat the defense of excited delirium.

Sherwin also exposed the racist and sexist roots of excited delirium when litigating the death of Martin Harrison in a federal civil rights lawsuit that spanned from 2010 to 2015. The case was settled after the first week of an eight-week trial for $8.3 million, the largest civil rights wrongful death settlement in California history at the time, plus extensive policy reforms in the fifth largest jail in the country.

Martin Harrison’s daughter, Krystle Aparicio, says, “From the beginning, even when my dad was in the hospital fighting for his life, it was very evident the officers were hiding something from us. They wanted to say my dad’s death was due to some mysterious condition, instead of their beating him and not following medical protocols. My dad was ripped away from us, and it’s been extremely devastating to my family. I have twins he’s never met, and my oldest son was only a year old when my dad was killed. My youngest brother was only 10 years old when our father died. He’s in college now, and his father will not be there when he graduates, and my kids will never know their grandfather, who was such a sweet, loving, and funny man. Police officers are sworn to protect and serve us, but these deaths keep happening, and they keep trying to cover them up.”

A PDF of the Physicians for Human Rights report is available for download at this link, or by emailing Haddad-sherwin@upraisepr.com or michael.julia@haddadsherwin.com.

ABOUT HADDAD & SHERWIN LLP. Founded in 1998 by Michael Haddad and Julia Sherwin, Haddad & Sherwin LLP is an Oakland, California law firm representing people in serious civil rights, police and jail misconduct, and wrongful death cases. For more information, visit https://haddadandsherwin.com/.


Julia Sherwin
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1 TASER International, Inc., renamed itself Axon Enterprise, Inc.