Man dies in police custody in Florida under odd circumstances

Post on behalf of Thomas J. Ueberschaer PA on Friday May 23, 2014

When a person retires and moves to a nice place with a carefree lifestyle, the last thing they probably expect is to die under questionable circumstances. One man who retired and moved to Key West, Florida, has died under circumstances that are best labeled as questionable at this time. The story of his death is so twisted that it is hard to decipher exactly what happened, but hopefully the pending investigation will shed some light as to what really happened on the day the 61-year-old man died while in police custody.

There are several different stories about what happened on that tragic day. Official documents say that the man was violently resisting arrest. Paramedics who responded to the scene say that the man ran from his vehicle and collapsed on the beach. Hospital records say that police found the man without a pulse and that he died at the hospital. A cellphone video shows the man was surrendering to police while walking away from his car. Officers then approached the man with their guns drawn.

No matter which version of these events is accurate, one thing that is evident is that Key West police officers didn’t follow the proper protocol during the incident. One unbelievable way that protocol was disregarded has to do with how the man’s family was notified of the incident. It wasn’t until four days after the man was placed on life support at the hospital that his family was told of the incident. A detective was given the duty to notify his family but failed to do so despite having access to his personal information.

Another issue in which protocol wasn’t follow has to deal with the autopsy after the man was taken off life support. His body was sent to the funeral home for cremation. That isn’t in line with a Florida law that says anyone who dies in police custody must have an autopsy.

The autopsy added even more questions to the investigation. It revealed no signs of a heart attack, according to the man’s family. It did, however, show abrasions from handcuffs on his wrists, as well as 10 fractured ribs. The investigation is being done by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, but a possible conflict of interest has the man’s family concerned since the lead investigator for the state was once married to the officers’ supervisor.

Anyone whose family member passes away under questionable circumstances similar to this one might have the right to seek compensation for the wrongful death of their loved one. Knowing the ins and outs of seeking compensation might help to make the process go a little more smoothly.

Source: CBS News, “Retiree dies in police custody after traffic stop” No author given, May. 21, 2014

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