GLASTONBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — The Glastonbury firefighter who told a crowd on Sunday that overdose victims should not be given Narcan, but just left to die, has now resigned from the department.
Fire Chief Michael Thurz made that announcement late Wednesday morning. The now-former Firefighter James Stanley is a familiar face at Black Lives Matter events.
“He brings a big speaker system and a megaphone and people and they yell at us,” Black Lives Matter organizer Ivelisse Correa said.
Correa recorded Stanley yelling at people at an event last September. Right up until she says another man tried to knock the phone out of her hand. It was no surprise, then, when Stanley showed up for the regular protest and food drive in Glastonbury this past Sunday. What was a surprise was his response to a question about the opioid crisis.
“Why don’t you get rid of (expletive) Narcan and when people overdose, you let them die,” Stanley said.
On Correa’s recording of the event, you then hear the collective gasp from the people who just heard a firefighter saying you should just let drug addicts die. For Correa, it’s personal.
“My friend lost her ex-husband, and her children lost their father. I lost my own cousin to opiates.”
Stanley defended himself in a statement to the Hartford Courant: “This comment in no way represents my character or conduct as a 20-year veteran of the fire service. I accept responsibility for my words and ask the people of the Glastonbury community not to judge me for negative words spoken in one moment, but for the positive actions and contributions of a lifetime of public service.”
Correa knows it’s not just one moment, however, it’s a string of them.
“If he’s actually serious about making changes or reforms, why not, you know, sit down and have some dialogue with us that doesn’t include 50 people with you screaming on a microphone and harassing us?” Asked Correa
In a statement announcing Stanley’s sudden retirement, Fire Chief Michael Thurz added: “Letting those who battle addiction succumb to their illness is not only disturbing, but inexcusable. This individual’s actions have blemished the organization and the Department wishes to express its sincerest apologies to the community for this unacceptable event.”
Thurz had previously told the Courant that his all-volunteer fire department does not handle emergency medical calls, so his firefighters would not be called upon to administer Narcan to overdose victims.
There was also video of Stanley arguing about slavery, domestic violence, sexual orientation, and more. It’s not clear why he was at that food drive, or why he was holding a rolled-up American flag. The Fire Chief said that Stanley was there on his personal time.