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“Niko” And The Phantom Jumper: Brookline’s Holiday Hallucination 

“If this claim is true … what substance did the teenager actually take: was it mushrooms, a combination of substances, or something else sourced from the internet?”

“Always that same LSD story, you’ve all seen it.

Young man on acid, thought he could fly, jumped out of a building

What a tragedy.”

Iconic comedian Bill Hicks was known for shaming prohibitionists. But this particular classic riff captured and foreshadowed a media trope about psychedelics and fools swan-diving out of windows that we still see today.

“What a dick! Fuck him, he’s an idiot. If he thought he could fly, why didn’t he take off on the ground first?”

More than 30 years later, news readers across the globe are asking that same question since the Brookline Police Department claimed this past week that someone high on “magic mushrooms” fell from a six-story building.

The news came from a since-deleted video on BPD’s Facebook page warning parents about a drug-dealing bogeyman they claim has been preying on Brookline-area high school students. In the literally unbelievable clip, which features Law & Order-style b-roll of somebody seizing packages of what looks like millions of dollars worth of powder cocaine (despite that particular drug not being involved in the contraband seizure), the department’s “Sgt. Rob” makes the connection between the alleged jumper and a dealer.

The video, which has since been removed from Facebook (but was still on YouTube at the time of this posting under the headline “Drugs in Brookline”), features the mononymic sergeant in front of a repeating montage of products they presumably seized from their culprit, including edibles with parody Sour Patch Kids and Skittles packages bearing California cannabis labels, nicotine vapes, a few jars of flower, and infused chocolate bars. One photo featured what appears to be a psilocybin product.

Despite the cartoonish nature of this naked prohibitionism, local news outlets were quick to breathlessly parrot the social media post, jumping (much like our mysterious victim) to the conclusion that the alleged dealer was reselling products purchased legally in a local dispensary and that the victim was a student at Brookline High.

The Boston Herald (“Brookline teenager who had ‘magic mushrooms’ jumped from 6th-story window: Police”) dug in, as did Boston 25 News (“Disoriented Brookline teen jumped from window after buying illegal ‘magic mushrooms,’ police say”), CBS News Boston (“Brookline police warn parents about marijuana edibles packaged like candy”), and, of course, the Boston Globe (“Brookline youth jumps out sixth story window after eating ‘magic mushrooms,’ officials say”). By the time this game of media telephone reached the UK on Friday, the Daily Mail was reporting that the infamous “Niko purchased drugs that are ‘not suitable for kids’ legally from local marijuana dispensaries, including psychedelic mushrooms and sold them to his ‘many teen customers.’”

Which is very unlikely, since cannabis dispensaries don’t sell psilocybin.

Reached for comment, Brookline police said the seized products did not come from a legal dispensary—so NETA, which manufactures some of the products shown in the department’s Reefer Madness tribute film, is off the hook. They also refused to confirm whether or not the victim was a high school student at all, but they did say there is “no connection” to Brookline High School, and ran a correction on their video: “Originally this minor was reported to be a BHS student. Further information reveals that the minor is a Brookline resident but does not go to BHS.”

We called the cops to see what happened. A deputy told us, “At this time, we are unable to comment on the person going out the window.” He said the family of the alleged victim asked police to not give any details. The representative from the department which released a video on multiple platforms about the incident added, “They’re just upset that the media has covered this at all.”

(Ed. note: BPD’s details about the accused dealer are similarly obtuse. The deputy gave us a last name for Niko, but at this juncture, we do not have enough information to publish that name, since there is no indication that the department’s link between him, mushrooms, or any of this story is true.)

James Davis, co-founder of Bay Staters for Natural Medicine, which “provides expert, one-on-one guidance for people considering a psychedelic experience” along with information about psychedelics, is skeptical about the police claims.

“The expression that someone jumped out of a six-story window is a trope that has been used to stir fear and anxiety about psychedelics for decades, and the association of this story with a child is particularly alarming,” Davis said. “A simple drive around Brookline reveals very few buildings (and virtually no residential buildings) have six stories. We believe the police have this telling of events incorrect, severely incomplete, or false with unclear intentions or through an irresponsible prism of hearsay.”

“The chronology here does not make sense,” Davis added. “Did police arrest this individual after a teenager allegedly jumped out of a window? If police knew about this individual distributing substances to teenagers, why did they not take action before a teenager allegedly jumped out of a window? If this claim is true in-part, what substance did the teenager actually take: was it mushrooms, a combination of substances, or something else sourced from the internet? Did the alleged teenager leap out of a building for another reason unrelated to substance use?

Police would not comment on whether they had Niko in custody.