On September 1, 2022, at approximately 9:19 p.m., a vehicle arrived from Canada at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge in Lewiston, New York. The driver of the vehicle, a U.S. citizen, could not find his identification to provide to the Customs and Border Protection officer working the primary inspection lane. The officer allowed him to search for his passport in the trunk of his vehicle, but he was unable to locate it.
While he was looking in the trunk, a second officer approached with his canine partner. Unable to locate his identification in the trunk, the man then walked to the rear passenger door, leaned into the vehicle, and began searching. The officer then instructed him to get back in his vehicle. The individual then walked around the front of the vehicle and entered the officer’s inspection booth, rather than his car. The officer then called for other officers to assist.
Two other officers, who were in proximity of the primary lane, responded at approximately 9:22 p.m. and escorted the man to the CBP medium secondary inspection building. Once inside, officers had him sit down on a long row of connected metal chairs in the waiting room lobby where he continued to wait and answer questions from officers located behind a plexiglass divider on the other side of a counter.
The man quickly placed both of his hands on his head at approximately 9:27 p.m., began to yell incoherently, fell from the chair and began to writhe on the ground. Officers on the other side of the secured counter noticed the man in distress and entered the medium secondary waiting room to check on him approximately 15 seconds later. He stopped moving approximately one minute later.
One officer checked the man’s pulse while another officer immediately requested emergency medical services at approximately 9:28 p.m. Officers continued to monitor the man while they awaited EMS’ arrival. The man became agitated approximately three minutes later and began to move around on the ground while officers monitored his actions. This continued for approximately five minutes until officers observed him kicking his legs, causing his body to hit the metal waiting room chairs and his head to hit the floor. A total of five officers then turned him over onto his stomach and handcuffed his hands behind his back to prevent him from injuring himself. The officers picked the man up off the floor after a few minutes and sat him in a recovery position on the metal chairs. He continued to yell incoherently and rock back-and-forth while officers continued to prevent him from injuring himself by supporting his head when necessary.
An acting supervisory officer, trained in the administration of medication designed to reverse an opioid overdose, administered a dose of Naloxone at approximately 9:45 p.m. into the man’s right nostril. The same supervisory officer administered a second dose of Naloxone into his left nostril approximately two minutes later. The man became calmer and more alert shortly after the second dose of Naloxone was administered but continued at times to yell incomprehensibly and rock back and forth on the metal chairs. He again began to writhe uncontrollably on the metal chairs and fell to the floor and lost consciousness approximately 15 minutes after the second dose of Naloxone. Officers monitored his condition as he continued to breathe on his own.
Upper Mountain Volunteer Fire Department EMS arrived at approximately 10:02 p.m. and immediately assumed primary care of the man. Officers removed the handcuffs at approximately 10:06 p.m., while EMS continued to provide primary care. EMS transported him to the Mount Saint Mary’s Hospital at approximately 10:08 p.m. and medical personnel declared the man deceased shortly after their arrival at the hospital.
Officers conducted a search of the man’s vehicle and discovered several substances, including one vial containing a white powdery substance that field-tested positive for cocaine. The unknown substances will be tested by a CBP laboratory.
The Erie County Medical Examiner’s Office and Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility are reviewing this incident. The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General was notified.