Boardman man charged with inducing panic for drug overdose

By Jordyn Grzelewski


Township police arrested a man on a charge of inducing panic for a recent drug overdose.

Robert Rosenberg, 22, of Market Street, was arrested Friday on a warrant for the misdemeanor offense, according to a police report.

The charge stems from an April 19 incident in which police were dispatched to the parking lot of a Southern Boulevard business for a reported overdose.

There, they found Rosenberg lying in the parking lot. He was “unresponsive, breathing shallow, and had a racing heartbeat,” police reported.

After being treated by fire department personnel and paramedics, Rosenberg reportedly admitted to police he used heroin and had just shot up two bags of the drug.

Police did not find contraband at the scene.

The Ohio chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union recently called on police agencies to stop charging overdose victims with crimes such as inducing panic. That call was in response to a policy in Washington Court House, Ohio, between Columbus and Cincinnati, where police have begun charging overdose victims with inducing panic.

“We feel that drug use and drug overdoses are a tragic problem in Ohio. What they are is a health care issue, not a criminal issue,” ACLU staff attorney Elizabeth Bonham told The Vindicator. “What we see time and time again, when these folks overdose and they enter the criminal-justice system, they aren’t able to get the health care treatment they need, and instead enter a cycle of incarceration or a cycle of debt that they can’t get out of.”

In some cases, charging someone with offenses such as inducing panic is a workaround to a new state law, called the Good Samaritan Law, which shields overdose victims and those who call 911 for them from misdemeanor drug-possession charges. Some law-enforcement officials have expressed frustration with the law and argue that getting addicts into the criminal-justice system is an intervention that ultimately can help them.

Boardman Police Chief Jack Nichols recently told The Vindicator he supports the life-saving intent of the Good Samaritan Law. He said his department pursues criminal charges against overdose victims “where charges are appropriate.”

Rosenberg’s arrest about 5 a.m. Friday occurred at a Boardman-Poland Road gas station, where a store clerk reported that Rosenberg “had been sitting outside on a milk crate for approximately 30 minutes and was vomiting on the walkway.”

Police reportedly found Rosenberg getting sick in the restroom. He told them that he had been off “hard drugs” for three days and likely was experiencing withdrawal.

Rosenberg was arraigned in Mahoning County Area Court here Tuesday. He pleaded not guilty to the charge of inducing panic and is scheduled to be back in court June 13.

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