GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A man police said was involved in two Gainesville police officers becoming exposed to drugs this week was arrested Friday.
The two officers were exposed to what investigators believed was fentanyl after they responded to a disturbance at a convenience store, police said.
The incident happened Sunday night, the Gainesville Police Department said. The officers were dispatched to West University Avenue around 9:45 a.m. to a disturbance inside a Wawa convenience store involving a man suspected of stealing, threatening people and damaging store property.
Reginald Turner Jr., 33, was identified as the suspect, police said. Investigators said Turner was found several blocks away after a chase and was taken into custody.
Police said Turner was in possession of various narcotics, including a white powdery substance, when he was taken into custody.
According to investigators, shortly after 11:30 p.m., both officers began experiencing symptoms of a fentanyl overdose. One officer experienced symptoms while inside the jail, and the other was at police headquarters.
Staff at both locations administered Narcan before both officers were rushed to a hospital.
Investigators said Turner was also transported to the hospital but became combative and was admitted for examination under the Baker Act after he attacked a nurse.
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“I could not imagine if we did not have the Narcan, if we did not have the help, if we did not have the officers that were able to articulate that something felt different,” said Lt. Lonnie Scott Jr., with the Police Department. “I don’t even want to think about that.”
According to a news release, on Tuesday, an arrest warrant was issued for Turner. Turner returned Friday to the Gainesville Police Department to pick up his items and was arrested on the active warrant.
Investigators found more of the white powder substance on Turner after he was arrested, police said.
The report also said additional charges are pending when results come back from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, where the drugs were sent for analysis.
Turner was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance and cannabis less than 20 grams, resisting without violence and petit theft.
Both officers were released from the hospital Monday but didn’t immediately return to work. The report stated that they are currently doing well.
Scott said what happened to his two officers is an example of the dangers police everywhere face when responding to a call.
“I think a lot of times people associate the dangers of the job with a weapon, but they don’t realize that when we go to intervene to make an arrest — in this case at a store or to help somebody — we can run across dangerous drugs like this that can possibly put us in the hospital or kill us,” Scott said.