A 19-year-old teen, handcuffed and high, stands in the glare of flashing police car lights while a friend lies unconscious on the lawn from a heroin overdose.
The moment is every parent’s nightmare and so are its consequences — something teens may never consider when they start experimenting with opioids .
But the stark scene is part of a new public service video called “Another Night” put together by the Suffolk County Bar Association to dramatically drive home the impact, financial costs and harsh penalties a young person faces when their illegal drug use lands them in the legal system .
The 37-minute video will premiere Monday at the bar association headquarters in Hauppauge at an invitation-only event with more than 100 school and public officials that will include a panel discussion. The association plans to make the video available to schools, local PTAs and religious groups to generate discussions between officials, parents and kids.
Justin Block, bar president, said the $10,000 project began a year ago when a predecessor gave him a copy of a similar video from 20 years ago, called “One Night,” which depicted the impact of a drunk driving accident.
“My feeling was that it was time to update it to address the opioid crisis,” said Block, who plays a bit part as a law clerk in the new video. “We put a committee together and it just took off.”
Actual police officers, judges, prosecutors and students from Hauppauge High School play roles in the video, while Drew Scott, ex-News 12 Long Island anchorman, speaks of his 22-year-old granddaughter who died of opioid use.
Early scenes portray a youngster taking a pain killer for an athletic injury, another taking pills from a medicine cabinet and sharing them with several friends in a basement gathering, along with alcohol taken from a parent’s liquor cabinet.
When one teen loses consciousness, others carry him outside, but don’t call for help. Police, responding to a noise call, order an ambulance and charge the boy who provided heroin to the victim.
The scene shifts to the parents' first meeting with their lawyer, who warns that bail could be as high as $100,000 for their son, who faces a serious B-felony for possession with intent to sell and more serious charges if the hospitalized friend does not survive.
The parents want their son out of jail, but the attorney urges them to leave him there at least overnight. “It’s important to know the severity of what’s going on,” the lawyer says. “You want it to be a teachable moment.”
The lawyer also lays out his likely fees: $10,000 to handle the case before indictment, another $15,000 afterward and $25,000 more if the case goes to trial.
The whole ordeal could cost $60,000. The parents fret later about using college savings or borrowing from retirement funds.
In later court scenes, prosecutors warn they might seek charges that could result in a maximum nine year sentence should the friend die.
The video also includes a discussion between two real-life judges who say the defendant’s most serious lapse was not immediately seeking help when his friend became unconscious, which could have given him protection under the state Good Samaritan Law.
The video ends with newsman Scott, standing in a cemetery, recalling his granddaughter, a scholarship student at Pratt Institute at the time of her death.
”If you try heroin just once, you can lose your life,” Scott says.
Noting that 600 Suffolk County young people died of opioids last year, he warns, “We lost a whole generation. Don’t let it be you.”