Newspaper criticizes its own reporting and sheriff over video of deputy collapsing after handling fentanyl


SAN DIEGO, CA – In a recent editorial from the San Diego Union-Tribune, the editorial board criticized not only their own reporting but the San Diego County sheriff regarding coverage and the dissemination of a video depicting a deputy who collapsed after handling fentanyl – which the sheriff proclaimed in the news release was due to an overdose.

The reason for the criticism from the editorial board was because the deputy was never medically diagnosed by a doctor of having suffered an overdose – rather, that medical opinion was born and bred by the San Diego County sheriff himself.

Back in early August, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office shared some bodycam footage from a July 3rd incident that showcased a deputy collapsing after handling what was suspected fentanyl.

We at Law Enforcement Today shared coverage of the released footage – as well as numerous other news agencies did – and reported the incident in a manner based upon the information provided by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office at the time: that the deputy suffered a fentanyl overdose while handling evidence.

The video was pretty dramatic, in that it showed the deputy handling suspected fentanyl and then just falling over and enduring a medical emergency that the sheriff’s department claimed was due to an overdose by simply coming into contact with fentanyl.

But the video wound up drawing some pushback apparently, namely from the medical community that specializes in matters relates to narcotics and overdoses, an aspect that the San Diego Union-Tribune noted in their editorial regarding the matter:

“[T]he Sheriff’s Department released a video that it said showed deputy David Faiive suffer an overdose from fentanyl after handling illegal narcotics on July 3 in a San Marcos parking lot.”

“Problem is that Sheriff Bill Gore, not a doctor, concluded Faiive had overdosed. And problem is that Undersheriff Kelly Martinez credited a deputy who gave Faiive naloxone with saving his life, but health experts say incidental contact with fentanyl would not lead to the reaction Faiive experienced.”

When Sheriff Bill Gore was first met with criticism from medical experts following the release of the video, he made the following statement:

“I saw the video. Everybody that saw the video saw him seize up, go down, fall on his head. The drugs tested for fentanyl. It was classic signs of fentanyl overdose — that’s why we called it that.”

While it’s blatantly clear that the deputy collapsed, well-accredited medical professionals called into question whether fentanyl exposure played a role based upon the showcased exposure seen in the video.

Dr. Andrew Stolbach, a medical toxicologist and an emergency physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, expressed harsh criticism toward media outlets that didn’t reach out to medical professionals before reporting on the released video:

“It makes me upset with the media that reported it. If you are going to do that story, you need to talk to at least one physician.”

Dr. Ryan Marino, medical director of toxicology at University Hospitals in Cleveland, reviewed the video as well and thought that the deputy’s collapse may have been the result of a nocebo effect.

Essentially, a nocebo is the opposite of a placebo – meaning that if an individual genuinely believes they can be harmed in a specific way by something, they may actually react in that manner to the non-existent threat:

“A nocebo effect could explain what is going on in this incident. I can say from watching that video he is not having an overdose.”

Dr. Marino added that he didn’t want to allege that the deputy wasn’t experiencing some sort of medical emergency but stressed that medical episode was “most likely caused by the fear and anxiety caused by this narrative…it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Another area of contention that arose from the released video related to when the deputy was administered naloxone by another deputy on scene after he collapsed, which a report from the New York Times noted that there was no immediate reaction to when the naloxone was administered.

Said report explained that a lacking reaction to the administering of naloxone would only happen if no opioids were present in someone’s system.

The criticisms continued to pour in over the video, with Professor Leo Beletsky from the UC San Diego School of Medicine perhaps delivering the most curt take on the incident:

“I would say there’s zero chance that it was caused by fentanyl exposure, in this case. You would need to be in a room where lots of powder was constantly in the air for hours in order to start ingesting enough of it to experience these symptoms.”

After the immense pushback, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office wound up releasing the entire, unedited bodycam footage related to the incident where the deputy collapsed after handling suspected fentanyl.

While there was never any drug test administered by medical professionals after the deputy was taken to the hospital – a practice that is apparently common if a patient appears to be lucid and responding to whatever emergency detoxicants EMTs are told they were administered – there was something that the unedited video revealed that wasn’t known before.

The deputy admitted to EMTs that arrived on scene that he has a history of collapsing, having suffered numerous head injuries in his past. When a paramedic asked the deputy about his medical history while he was on the ground, the deputy responded with:

“This is probably my sixth or seventh time I’ve fallen on my head.”

While it is never going to be concretely known exactly what happened to the deputy that day back in early July, it is a topic that the sheriff’s office is apparently no longer wanting to expand upon further after having released the unedited footage from the incident.

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Your ‘drug dealers are trying to kill you’: Bodycam footage released of deputy saving man who overdosed on fentanyl

(Originally published August 4th, 2021)

PASCO COUNTY, FL- On Saturday afternoon, July 31st, a deputy’s quick actions helped save a man overdosing on fentanyl.

According to reports, a deputy responded to an overdose call in the woods off Hicks Road. Body camera footage shows the deputy running towards the man and a woman. The man was reportedly unconscious in a tent. The woman told the deputy:

“I’m pretty sure he took fentanyl.”

Both she and the deputy worked together to pull the man out of the tent. Once out of the tent, the deputy used Narcan and compressions to try and save the man. Just before the man began breathing again, the woman is heard saying:

“Wake up, wake up!”

The deputy then found a pulse and continued to rub the man’s sternum, all while trying to keep the woman who was with him calm. He said:

“He’s got a pulse, keep breathing. He’s going to come out of it.”

After a few minutes, the overdosed man was able to walk with the help from rescue personnel to a stretcher. A member of the Pasco County Fire Rescue said to the recovering man:

“Listen to what I’m saying. These drug dealers are trying to kill you.”

The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said it released the video to promote awareness of how substance abuse in the local area is surging. The video also had a statement on it telling people struggling with addiction problems to find help. 

According to reports, drug overdose deaths increased significantly across the county within the last year, but Florida in particular saw a huge spike. Data released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that more than 93,000 people died of a drug overdose in the U.S. in 2020.

That is the highest number of overdose deaths the country has ever recorded and reflects a 29.4% increase from 2019. Reportedly, Florida ranks second in the nation for overdose deaths, behind California.

In 2020, Florida had 7,579 overdose deaths, an increase of 37% from 2019. The greater Tampa Bay region has also been hit hard by the opioid crisis. According to estimates from Project Opioid, more than 1,200 Tampa Bay residents died from opioid usage in 2020, exceeding the 1,024 deaths reported in 2019.

Dianne Clarke, CEO of Operation PAR, a substance use treatment program based in Pinellas County, said in a statement:

“Florida is a port of entry for drugs. When you look at our international airports, the amount of ports we have, the amount of coastline we have, what that means is not only is there more here, but when it gets here, it’s more pure.”

Clarke shared that fentanyl deaths in Pinellas County increased by more than 52 percent between 2019 and 2020. She said:

“That’s the drug we’re battling right now.”

On June 30th, a Florida mother was arrested after her 7-month-old daughter was found unresponsive after ingesting fentanyl. The baby was give Narcan by doctors. 

According to officers, the baby was in a respiratory arrest and had pinpoint pupils when she arrived at the hospital. Immediately after the dose of Narcan, the girl cried and her pupils dilated. Further testing found that the baby girl tested positive for fentanyl. 

The primary caregiver of the child was arrested on July 16th. She faces charges of neglect of a child, which is a first-degree felony. She was transported to the Lee County Jail and is currently out on bail. The baby is recovering with other family members.


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