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March 24, 2016

Police saved Delco man's life with Narcan, then put him in jail

Video of man overdosing on bus in Upper Darby went viral in February

Heroin Narcan
Upper Darby heroin Narcan Upper Darby Police Department/Facebook

Upper Darby police posted surveillance video of Michael Meaney, 25, of Media, who was charged on Feb. 18 with drug possession.

Media outlets love to share stories of the people who were saved by Narcan, the anti-overdose drug. It's an inspiring story every time: Police rush in to save a person who is overdosing, whip out a vial of that miracle drug and, boom, the person jumps back from the very brink of death.

What happens after the person is revived, however, may not be so inspiring — especially if the person who overdosed never wanted their story to be in the news.

Take the case of Michael Meeney, who in February shot up heroin and then overdosed on a bus in Upper Darby. Police revived him using Narcan, then put surveillance video of the dramatic encounter on their Twitter account.

The Daily Beast has followed up with what happened to Meeney afterward.

After saving his life, police officers arrested him on charges of heroin possession (he allegedly had four baggies on him). Meeney started feeling severe withdrawal symptoms while in jail, where he still remains in custody on $20,000 bail.

His lawyer, Eugene Bonner, has tried to get his client diverted to drug treatment instead of jail. He also called out the police department for releasing the humiliating video of Meeney's overdose, turning the worst moment of his life into a viral sensation.

"He asked me how they could just use his video like that, without his permission, but since it happened in public they can do what they want with it,” Bonner told The Daily Beast.

Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood told the website that he didn't regret the decision to put up the video because "there is a lot of value in seeing how people who are addicted will go to whatever ends to use drugs."

Meeney has had several stints in jail and has been ordered into drug treatment at least four times since 2009, but each time he went to jail again because he could not complete the program.

A few weeks after the video went viral, Chitwood announced that Upper Darby residents struggling with substance abuse can seek help at the police department through a new program called "Change is Possible." Police will connect residents seeking help to the treatment and recovery provider Gaudenzia Inc.

The purpose is to make the police station a safe haven for individuals who are sturggling with drug addiction, Chitwood said when he announced the program on March 9.

Read the Daily Beast's story here.