He Was Fixing a Flat. What Happened Next Killed Him

Jamie Britt was given a shot of ketamine by a South Carolina paramedic
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2020 11:17 AM CST
Updated Mar 8, 2020 2:00 PM CDT
He Was Fixing a Flat. What Happened Next Killed Him
This July 25, 2018 photo shows a vial of the drug ketamine in Chicago.   (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)

When a South Carolina cop came upon Jamie Britt last September, he was drunk, shirtless, and polite. "Yes, ma'am, no, ma'am," he's heard saying on bodycam video as the two discuss the flat tire he's trying to change in Mount Pleasant. She gets him to agree to call a tow truck. What happened next ended up killing him, and at the Post and Courier, Steve Bailey looks at the use of the drug that ended Britt's life. Bailey explains that things went south about 15 minutes later, when a responding police supervisor began administering a field sobriety test. "All hell quickly breaks loose," writes Bailey, and the 6-foot-3 man is wrestled to the ground; his hands are subsequently cuffed and his legs shackled. Paramedics arrive shortly after—and one administers the ketamine shot that ultimately kills him.

Bailey explains the drug has "long been used as an anesthetic" (and found life as party drug Special K, too). Paramedics have been permitted to use it in the state for three years now, and have done so nearly 2,000 times. Bailey describes Britt's case as a "horror show": It was only after the shot was administered that the paramedic asked the 50-year-old if he took medication; the last thing Britt said was that he took Lisinopril for high blood pressure. He lost consciousness and was taken off a ventilator 16 days later. Ketamine "shouldn’t be mixed with alcohol and carries elevated risks for those with high blood pressure. Britt checked both boxes," writes Bailey. His death—due to "restrain asphyxia" and "the toxic effects of ketamine"—has been ruled a homicide. (Read the full story here.)

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