BELMONT COUNTY, Ohio (WTRF) – An inmate found comatose at the Belmont County Jail is facing two felony charges after smuggling drugs into his cell and endangering both staff and other inmates.
Belmont County authorities say David Hancher-Palmer was found comatose in his cell on August 14 due to apparent drug exposure. Earlier that day, during hourly cell checks, three other inmates were discovered with slurred speech and other signs of drug use. Two of the inmates submitted urine samples that showed the presence of fentanyl in their system.
Officials say Hancher-Palmer had a plastic bag within reach that was coated in feces and contained a gray powder.
Hancher-Palmer was taken to East Ohio Regional Hospital and treated for a drug overdose, Sgt. Jordan Blumling said. Hancher-Palmer is now charged with two felonies–conveyance and drug possession.
According to Bluming, Hancher-Palmer had undergone the standard body scan when he was booked into the jail, but the scan results are not always exact.
Conveying drugs into a correctional institution endangers both the staff and inmates by exposing them to the materials. Decontamination procedures include clearing the cells, cleaning and even shutting down the air intake system in some cases.
“The inmate has to be taken to the hospital, then we have to place a guard on that inmate. Often a person has to be pulled from road patrol,” Chief Deputy James Zusack with the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office explained. “It creates a burden on our resources.”