NEW YORK - During yesterday's press briefing at police headquarters, reporters were shown a pair of disturbing videos ostensibly illustrating the effects of synthetic marijuana—or, as Police Commissioner Bill Bratton prefers to call it—weaponized marijuana.
"The videos might be disturbing," Bratton warned, adding that it was, however, necessary for members of the press to see the effects of this powerful, dangerous drug sweeping the city. And disturbing they were! Unfortunately for the NYPD, it turns out that the lesson bestowed upon the city's press corps was not about the dangers of synthetic weed, as we were led to believe, but the dangers of PCP.
Indeed, the video depicting a man, stripped naked and tearing through a fence with his bare hands, was shot not in NYC circa 2015, but was featured on an episode of COPS, shot in Des Moines, Iowa in 2002 and airing in 2003. Here's the full version of the video.
The officer instrumental in bringing the strung-out perp to the ground was Officer Lori Lavorato, who, according to the Des Moines Register, "had to jump on the back of a naked man high on PCP." Fake weed, or K2, is a blend of herbs and spices sprayed with a synthetic compound. PCP is made wholly of chemicals and works as a NMDA receptor antagonist, often causing users to act in "an unpredictable fashion."
Reached by phone, Lavorato, who served as a cop for 17 years, tells us that although officers did not find any drugs on the perp at the time (he was naked), he'd been arrested for PCP possession several times in the past. (Lavorato called back to clarify that the perp's friends told cops at the time that he'd done PCP in the past. He had not, however, been arrested for PCP possession.)
Why did the NYPD show reporters a decade-old video depicting the effects of the wrong drug? A spokesperson tells us he "doesn't know" where the video came from, but we'll update if someone in the department figures it out. In the meantime, you can read about the effects that actual synthetic weed had on two Gothamist staffers here.
Update: An NYPD spokesperson called to inform us that the video was only "shown to depict the type of behavior sometimes associated with 'excited delirium syndrome,'" and that it was "never, ever said that it was K2 that the people were on." He added that this effect is often produced by "methamphetamine, PCP, K2, LSD and other types of drugs."
Asked whether there are known ties between K2 and excited delirium syndrome, the spokesman said that "he's not a doctor."
Both videos were distributed to the media bearing the file names "K2 Video" in emails with subject lines reading "K2 Video."
By Lauren Evana - Go Thamist/Aug. 5, 2015
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