Ocala Police Department marked a historical moment Tuesday with its first-ever murder indictment of a heroin dealer, with charges against David Long on first-degree homicide.
OPD announced last fall that opioid-related deaths would be investigated as homicides and the dealers charged accordingly.
In October, Long was suspected of sexual assault, kidnapping and possession of heroin in the death of a woman brought to Ocala Regional Medical Center. Officers were called to the hospital when medical examiners found that the woman had overdosed before losing consciousness and being sexually assaulted.
Using Long’s cell phone videos of himself assaulting the woman, OPD gathered enough evidence to indict Long, according to police Chief Greg Graham.
Graham announced the indictment today at a press conference and said that if an opioid dealer is selling drugs and someone dies, the dealer is going to jail.
The police department has carried out multiple initiatives to prevent overdose and related deaths, but those efforts have resulted in no significant change, according to Graham.
He said that the OPD could not arrest their way out of the opioid epidemic in Marion County and Ocala. Instead, he is confident that the new Heroin/Opioid Amnesty program will help lower cases of overdoses and deaths. The amnesty program was announced in early February, which permits addicts to seek help without being arrested. He noted that five people have approached the police department as of Friday.
“As far as I’m concerned, that’s a success as well, even if we have one person,” said the police chief.
Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn mentioned he is very pleased with the OPD and state attorney’s work and is ready to share this first-ever opioid homicide case in Ocala with other cities across the U.S.
Graham said he wants the community to recognize that those who are addicted need help and sympathy. He wishes there would be similar responses to overdose deaths as there are with gun shot vicitims.
“I’m hoping that our communities come together and see that and we give people the help they need,” Graham said.
In addition to the amnesty program and homicide charges against drug dealers, Graham said the OPD can help combat the prescription opioid epidemic. He suggested the police department can work with medical professionals to better assess pain management and misuse of prescription opioids.
“We’re here to help you,” Graham said. “We want to get you off this drug.”