A University of Georgia student who authorities believed might have been high on PCP jumped naked into the hopper of a sanitation truck last weekend, according to an Athens-Clarke County police report. It took four officers to get 22-year-old Benjamin Abele out of the truck as he violently fought them off, and police said it was difficult to get hold of him because he was extremely slick from being coated with a foul-smelling liquid. Abele was shocked twice with a Taser as officers tried to subdue him, but police said the device had no effect. Abele was taken by ambulance for hospital treatment, and police said they were going to charge him. Abele’s LinkedIn page indicates he is a senior at UGA. He describes himself as a "persistent entrepreneur who embraces each failure as a valuable gain of wisdom."
The incident occurred at 2:30am on Sunday and began when an officer monitoring a crowd was asked by someone whether he had seen the naked man running across East Clayton Street. The officer thought it was a joke, but when he turned to look, he saw Abele leave the entrance to an apartment and run toward a city sanitation truck stopped in the road, jumping into the rear hopper.
Racing over to the truck, the officer looked in and saw Abele “laying in the contents of the hopper which consisted of bags of garbage and about six inches deep of dirty and foul liquid seeping from the bags,” according to the report.
The officer, a sergeant with the police department’s downtown operations unit and a former member of the Northeast Georgia Regional Drug Task Force, saw that Abele “had a dazed look on his face and his eyes were completely dilated,” and he “immediately recognised this as a possible manifestation of PCP impairment.” The officer called for backup and also called for an ambulance.
PCP, also known as angel dust, can induce schizophrenic-like episodes, paranoia and delusions of superhuman strength or abilities.
When Abele began trying to get out of the truck, the officer stopped him because he felt it would be safer to keep him there until help arrived.
“I was concerned (that) in his state he was an immediate danger to himself and the numerous pedestrians in the area that was crowding to watch,”
the officer wrote in the report.
The truck’s driver reportedly gave assurance that the hydraulic trash hopper could not automatically activate and hurt the student.
When additional officers arrived, they attempted to remove Abele from the truck, but the student “began squirming into a narrow channel under the hopper where the hydraulic lines are routed,” the report continued. This caused concern that “if he were to move deep into this space … he would become lodged where we couldn’t access him and due to his state and intense heat associated with the underside of the truck a risk of death was present,” the report stated.
After struggling to keep the slippery student from going into the channel under the hopper, the officer placed a handcuff on Abele to make it easier to pull him out of the truck, according to the report.
Abele made things even more difficult for the officers when he began fighting them, swinging his hands at the sergeant’s face and kicking him in the chest, according to the report.
Abele was shocked once with a Taser while in the garbage truck and a second time after he was finally pulled out and placed, still thrashing, on the ground, according to the police report.
Throughout the ordeal, officers remained concerned for Abele’s welfare. While holding the student down and monitoring his breathing, a second call for an ambulance was made, this time requesting an urgent response, “fearing he might enter cardiovascular distress,” according to the police report.
After Abele was placed into the ambulance, two police went with him to control him, as he was “cyclic in his moods and fighting with abnormal strength,” according to the report.
The downtown police sergeant wrote in the report that when he later drove to Athens Regional Medical Center to check on Abele, the student was still fighting despite apparent medical measures to bring him down from the apparent PCP high.
The police report noted that in addition to puncture wounds caused by Taser darts, Able had sustained abrasions from being held down by officers on the street.
Abele was charged with obstruction of a law enforcement officer, a felony, and public indecency, a misdemeanor. He was freed from custody after posting $16,000 bond.