Fayetteville officer back on job after drug exposure nearly killed him
A Fayetteville police officer was back on duty Friday after an accidental drug exposure the previous day had his colleagues scrambling to save his life.Posted — Updated
Narcotics officers executed a search warrant Thursday morning at a home in the 1100 block of Bernadine Street, where Officer Samuel Cook was exposed to fentanyl, a powerful and deadly opioid that can be absorbed through the skin.
Cook said he was loading equipment into his vehicle afterward when his face started tingling, he felt dizzy and he started coughing.
"It felt like my chest was tight, my throat was clogged and I felt like I couldn't really breathe," he said.
He fell to his knees and then face-first on the ground, and his fellow officers sprang into action, realizing he was suffering from an overdose.
"When I hit the ground, I was throwing up constantly," Cook said.
Another officer gave him a dose of Narcan, a drug used to reverse the effect of an opioid overdose, but there was no response.
"I thought I was ready to go completely out," Cook said.
But his colleagues then gave him a second dose of Narcan, and within a minute, he was standing up again. He was taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, where he was checked out and allowed to go home.
"It's crazy being a victim of it," he said. "I've seen people overdosing, but I never thought it could happen to me."
All Fayetteville patrol officers have carried Narcan nasal spray for three years to treat overdose victims.
"Narcan is a tool that helped save my life," the officer said. "Ultimately, what saved my life was the training the police department provided to our officers. I give all credit to my teammates for saving my life."
Hazmat crews remained at the home, and Bernadine Street was blocked off for several hours as the investigation continued.
Demetrie R. Everett, 23, who lives in the home, was charged with two counts of possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver heroin, possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver a synthetic cannabinoid, possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver MDMA, two counts of felony maintaining a dwelling for keeping and selling a controlled substance and simple possession of marijuana.
Marqucia Byrd, 25, of the 4900 block of Fieldcrest Drive, who was at the Bernadine Street home when officers searched it, was charged with possession of cocaine.
Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins and Durham Police Chief C.J. Davis said state law needs to be changed so stronger charges can be brought against those who deal drugs that have the potential to harm first responders and law enforcement.
"The law does have to be evaluated, not just for the people who are selling the drugs, but like you start thinking about the opioid issues – the doctors who are giving out prescriptions – so we're really looking at that and how else, what other means, what other tools we have to try and address this whole fentanyl issue," Hawkins said.
"It's not just for public safety, but its for anybody who could, as a residual effect, can be impacted in a negative way by a drug laboratory or whatever," Davis said.
"That might be something the legislature can look at because this fentanyl is such a problem, a drop of it can kill a human being," added Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West.
Cook agreed that tougher laws are needed.
"We [can] become a victim, but at the same time, it's what we signed up to do," he said. "We signed up to fight crime, we signed up to fight the drug dealers, and ultimately, we know that risks that come with that."
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