POLICE BEAT

First man charged with OUI after using bath salts arrested again

Posted Aug. 15, 2011, at 12:58 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 15, 2011, at 6:15 p.m.
Christopher Buzzell
Bangor Police Department
Christopher Buzzell

BANGOR, Maine — A local man who in June became the first person in Maine charged with operating under the influence as a result of using the synthetic drug bath salts was arrested Sunday after he consumed the drug again and grabbed an officer’s gun, police said.

Bangor police Officers Eric Tourtelotte and Kevin MacLaren went to Mitchell Street at around 10 a.m. Sunday to investigate the report of a domestic dispute.

“A witness stated that a Christopher Buzzell, 27, of Bangor was on bath salts and has ‘lost it,’” Sgt. Paul Edwards said Monday.

Buzzell took off on foot down Bolling Drive and refused to stop for MacLaren, who used a Taser to subdue him. Buzzell was taken to the emergency room at Eastern Maine Medical Center.

“He was making statements that were consistent with being delusional and supported the earlier statement that he was more than likely on bath salts,” Edwards said.

Bath salts, a designer drug that became illegal in Maine at the beginning of July, usually contains mephedrone or methylenedioxypyrovalerone, also known as MDPV. Police, doctors and emergency responders have reported signs of paranoia, hallucinations, convulsions and psychotic behavior in users of the drug.

Buzzell was charged with refusing to submit to arrest or detention and for violating his probation and was left at the hospital for treatment. When Officers Russ Twaddell and MacLaren attempted to arrest him at around 8:45 p.m. as he was released from EMMC, he became upset, Edwards said.

“As the officers attempted to handcuff Mr. Buzzell, he screamed, became extremely combative, and was reported as ‘incredibly strong’ as both officers grounded him,” the sergeant said. “As they struggled to control Buzzell, Officer Twaddell reported that [Buzzell] grabbed his service pistol and tried to pull it out of the holster.”

Buzzell was Tasered again and taken to the Penobscot County Jail. In addition to the two initial charges, Buzzell was charged with felony assault on a police officer and again for refusing to submit to arrest or detention.

“Officer Twaddell was treated for blood-borne pathogen exposure and shoulder pain,” Edwards said.

Buzzell “cut his eye when he was Tasered the first time,” and some of the blood got on Twaddell during his arrest, Edwards explained.

Twaddell was later cleared for duty.

On June 21, Buzzell was charged with OUI after using bath salts, a man-made stimulant and hallucinogenic drug that began to surface in Bangor back in February, according to police. He led police on a high-speed chase, crashed and ended up standing in the Penobscot River in “an elevated state of excitement and confusion,” unable to follow simple commands, Edwards said at the time.

Buzzell “stated that he took ‘bath salts,’ and told me that they should be illegal,” Bangor police Officer Kyle Pelkey said in his report from June.

He was charged with eluding an officer, two counts of criminal operating under the influence of intoxicants and driving to endanger.

Anne Buzzell said after her husband’s arrest in June that he began using bath salts at the beginning of that month, and in just a few weeks the drug had changed him into something she didn’t recognize.

If convicted of felony assault on a police officer, Buzzell could face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. He remained in jail at noon Monday, a jail official said.

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