What happened next is disputed. The incident report, as well as Carrboro Police Captain Chris Atack, said the officers arrived on the scene, let the EMTs take the patient to the hospital for treatment and then left. A witness, who asked that his name be withheld for privacy reasons, tells a different story.
“The officer wanted to know where the heroin was, where the patient got his heroin. And so he tried to ask the patient, but obviously the patient, lapsing in and out of consciousness, wasn’t going to answer, so he says, ‘OK, I’m gonna wake him up.’”
The witness said the officer administered naloxone — a drug that reverses heroin overdoses, which Carrboro police were trained and authorized to use in October 2014 — quickly in order to question the patient, but the witness said the officer applied the medicine too quickly.
“You’re only supposed to give a certain amount until the patient starts spontaneously breathing,” the witness said. “You give too much, then they’re bound to go into an intense withdrawal, and they can get physically combative and violent.”
The witness said upon seeing the patient enter a withdrawal, the officer told the other responders to stand back before using a Taser on the patient — who the witness described as disoriented, screaming and punching the air.
The Daily Tar Heel and Carrboro police both reported that the first use of naloxone by police officers occurred in January, a month before this alleged use, which was not mentioned in the police incident report of the overdose.
Carrboro police spokesman Chris Atack disputed the witness’ version of the incident.
“The only part of that that has any truth to it is that our officers did respond with fire and EMS to an overdose call. The rest of that is not anywhere near correct,” he said.