Fentanyl experts say video of Florida officer having a medical emergency is not an overdose

FOX 35 Investigates is looking deeper into this viral video of a Tavares officer in medical distress. The department labeled what happened as a fentanyl overdose. The video has gotten significant pushback from members of the medical community saying what’s happening is simply not that. 

FOX 35 took the video directly to two of the most prominent toxicologists in the world. Both have spent years studying fentanyl and its effects. While both agree some type of medical emergency is happening, they say what is seen in the video is not consistent with an opioid overdose. 

"There’s just no practical way in an outdoor environment that that could happen," said Dr. Lewis Nelson, Medical Toxicologist in Addiction Medicine and Department Chair of Emergency Medicine at Rutgers Medical School. 

Dr. Nelson of Rutgers Medical school co-published a prominent study saying passive fentanyl exposure is nearly impossible. This means simply coming in contact with the drug is not enough to overdose. He says a small dose wiped from a sleeve or inhaled wouldn’t be enough to cause one either. 

"You see on TV when they put out a line. You have to have a good amount to get in your body," said Nelson. "You’re not going to get a little powder on your hand and put it in your nose. You’re not going to get sick from that."

Toxicology experts used the body camera video released by the Tavares Police Department to support their analysis. While a medical emergency is indeed happening, they say it’s not consistent with an overdose. 


"She’s walking out of the car. "If your having a fentanyl overdose or an opioid overdose you don’t have pastoral tone. You’re not up. You’re unconscious. You’re breathing is slow. You’re eyes are closed.," said Dr. Andrew Stolbach Medical Toxicologist, Emergency Physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital and Board Director of the American College of Medical Toxicology. "We see here she’s sitting up at one point. She says my chest hurts so bad. Again, opioid toxicity you’re asleep. You’re unconscious."

Officer Bannick spoke with FOX35 believing the Narcan is what saved her life. 

"Narcan only works to reverse opioid overdoses. It does not work to get you out of anxiety attacks," said Bannick

While both doctors say it was a good idea to use Narcan while assessing the situation, they don’t believe it’s what brought her back.

"It’s not consistent with Narcan or Naloxone for you to get it and then have a good response and wake up and then immediately go back down," said Stolbach. "It’s just not consistent at all."

Both Doctors believe Officer Bannick was having a reaction of some kind to what happened, but, they just don't think it was an overdose. 

"It seems so real. These are all legitimate concerns," said Nelson. "I don’t think anyone’s trying to pull a fast one here. I think people really feel they are exposed because that’s what they’ve been told happens."

Both doctors hope this can be a teaching moment for many including law enforcement about fentanyl. They want people to know it’s safe to come in contact with fentanyl and jump in to help someone overdosing.