In August 26-year-old Jerrold Burnham, a resident of 77 Radcliffe Drive in Palm Coast, was arrested for selling oxycodone within 1,000 feet of a public park in Bunnell, a first-degree felony, and possession of heroin. In September he agreed to plead to the two charges. He was to be sentenced Friday, facing the possibility of up to 41 years in prison.
That month he posted bail and bonded out. Saturday night, he was arrested again–on a felony burglary charge and two misdemeanor charges–in an incident that resulted in the hospitalization of a Bunnell police officer and a Flagler County sheriff’s deputy who had come in contact with alleged narcotics Burnham was carrying. The suspect also fell ill and lost consciousness, himself requiring brief hospitalization.
The deputies involved were the sheriff’s K-9 deputy Gibson Smith and the Bunnell Police Department’s Jennie Baker. They’d responded to a disturbance call at 210 North Fig Street, opposite Bunnell Elementary School, just after 10 p.m. on Nov. 2. Residents there told the officers that Burnham had entered uninvited and became unruly, making accusations of infidelity to one of the residents, before allegedly snatching a pair of glasses and a phone and running off.
Smith located him on North Palmetto Street. At first the apprehension went calmly. Smith handcuffed Burnham and read him his Miranda rights, and Burnham agreed to speak of the incident. He said he and a woman at the house had agreed to speak outside the house, because he had a trespass warning against him at that address. He said they met, he asked to borrow her phone and her glasses, she agreed (he claims) and he left.
When Burnham was told he was under arrest for burglary, he tensed up, according to his arrest report, clung to a fence and started screaming for the woman, and saying he was not going back to jail.
As Smith was patting him down and checking Burnham’s pockets, wearing latex gloves as deputies usually do when conducting such searches, the deputy stuck his hand in a back pocket of Burnham’s and tore his glove. “There must’ve been something in there because almost as soon as he put his hand in his pocket he became extremely nauseous, he began vomiting, his pupils were not dilating properly,” a sheriff’s spokesperson said.
The arrest report describes Smith as starting to “vomit uncontrollably” and falling to his knees. He’d just removed a silver metal spoon with some sort of residue from Burnham’s pocket, and a capped hypodermic needle with a light brown substance.
Burnham, who had been clinging to a fence, “was eventually removed from the fence and fell unconscious,” his arrest report states without additional detail. Dispatch note include a deputy’s remark that the deputy helped to gain compliance from Burnham. But he, too, appears to have experienced a rewaction to a substance, based on a deputy’s description of his symptoms captured in a body cam video: “He was alert and conscious up against the fence,” a deputy tells a paramedic, “they think he was using. We went to pull him off the fence, and when we pulled him off the fence he resisted us, not too much of a struggle, we just kind of pulled him forward. And then he automatically went into like, these convulsions, heavy breathing.” Burnham was on the ground, seemingly unconscious but breathing, as deputies spoke to a paramedic.
Soon after Smith fell ill, Baker felt a sharp pain her her arm and started to feel light-headed and nauseous. Three ambulances were requested–one for each of the law enforcement officers, one for the suspect. All three were transported to AdventHealth Palm Coast.
Smith was administered Narcan, the neutralizing agent usually given to individuals experiencing overdoses, to restore and regulate their breathing. Sheriff Rick Staly was at the hospital soon after the deputy was taken there, as was the deputy’s wife, who is also a sheriff’s deputy and who was relieved of duty so she could be with her husband.
“Both Officer Baker and Deputy Smith were treated for exposure to an unknown substance suspected of being an illegal narcotic,” Burnham’s arrest report states.
Fentanyl, the powerful narcotic, is known to trigger violent reactions even from minimal exposure, but a sheriff’s spokesperson said a preliminary test showed that it was not fentanyl. But a fuller toxicology report is yet to come. The substance was sent out to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Burnham was also treated and released back to the custody of the sheriff’s office, and was booked at the county jail before 4 a.m. The burglary charge is a second degree felony. The Friday plea hearing, at 10:45 a.m. before Circuit Judge Terence Perkins, is still on the docket.
“Our men and women in uniform face countless dangers every day,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “When law enforcement officers answer a call, they never really know what they are walking in to. They only know that they could be putting their life on the line to save someone else. I saw both of them at the hospital and you could tell they had been exposed to a very dangerous narcotic, probably heroin laced with something. I am thankful that Deputy Smith and Officer Baker are going to be okay. This could have had a very different outcome.”
Bunnell Police Chief Tom Foster said Baker is “doing fine, I talked to her that night at the emergency room a and I talked to her again Sunday morning,” and she was back at work Sunday at midnight. “I’m very thankful both the deputy and Officer Baker are doing well, but that very well turned into a bad situation.”
BYE You are where you belong. A long time away to get sober is in the future. Good riddance to a career criminal. He should have never been out in the first place.
Get arrested, bond out, get arrested, bond out. Could we please lock up oxygen-thief trash like this and keep them until trial? Even this Einstein knows that the system is a joke.
Very important to find out where this batch of bad drugs came from! This guy was just a dealer and a courier. He is getting the stuff from higher level dealers who are introducing this poison into the larger mainstream of our society. God knows what this stuff really is, where it comes from or what it is cut with! This is a possible epidemic in the making. I hope the DEA has been called in.
Noti me says
Agreed, i do not want to touch it
I cannot wait until the toxicology report is released. I want to know what the heck this was!
Paula Jones says
As a practicing RN with 41 years experience, I am extremely interested in knowing what substance the tox report identifies. All other first responders (as well as me, as I always offer to assist out in the public waiting for EMS) are at risk here. God bless and thank goodness the officers were not lethally harmed.
Yes that’s really important to find the supplier.
Sheila Silvola says
Oh no! God Bless You Gib Smith! Prayers are up for you, your family and your Mom!
And people are worried about a church that shelters homeless people from the cold in this neighborhood? Given a choice, I would much prefer that to drug deals across the street from and elementary school!
How does someone get exposed to this from a CAPPED needle¿? I mean did the officer lick the spoon? I’m confused..
Lock him up
CB from PC says
Another fine product of a lenient system.
I guess selling options near a school qualifies for “low level drug offender”.
Hey folks, before problems like this can be solved, they have to be brought under control…by whatever means necessary.
Treatment will not help people like this.
This clown was out on bail pending a court appearance this upcoming Friday.
Enough of the revolving door.
The decent people in neighborhoods where this is occurring deserve better.
Flagler County justice system has been WAY too soft on these types of crimes and people. He’ll be back out on the street dealing once again quicker than a magician can pull a rabbit out of his hat. The justice system sucks in this county.
Charles "Bub" Robson says
Lock all of the drug dealers up. The drugs are killing the county & country. People like this drug dealer should never see the light of day again. Drug dealers are killers in my opinion. Drug dealers are preying on the young. Our Law Enforcement Officers are put in Harms way every day by drug dealers. Will the exposure of these substances effect the Officers lives later in life, probably. Support Law Enforcement and turn in drug dealers even if they are family, save a life.
L'Darius Smith says
welcome to voodoo
Its the drug tail waggin the dog, Isnt that right”Allegedly”, voodoo lol Whats next a curse . THX LEO
Welcome to Prison lol
Jeffrey Puritis says
Prayers are with you two officers. It’s a crime when your out there doing your job and something like this can happen. You officers are in a thankless job. GB
Thank god everyone recovered and thank you officers involved especially k-9 officer !! Saving more lives , getting it off the streets !! 🐾
Lock him up this time. He always manages to get out. He is a danger to everyone.
Also a snitch. Women beater, sexual predator.throw away the key to the cell.
Prayers for the officers dealing with him.