A handcuffed Florida man jumped into the Boca Ciega Bay and drowned after fleeing from an officer who had arrested him, authorities said. Donnie Brownlow Jr., 33, was arrested on Sunday evening in response to a domestic violence call but tried to break free after being taken to the police department as officers waited for a transport van.
Police chased him but Brownlow evaded them and straightway headed toward the Boca Ciega Bay and finally in an attempt to avoid getting nabbed jumped into the rough waters. Police have launched an investigation to ascertain if Brownlow was under the influence or was having a mental episode.
Brownlow was arrested by police after they responded to reports of a domestic disturbance in Treasure Island, which is near Tampa Bay. He was arrested for domestic battery, obstruction, felony driving while license suspected or revoked and violation of probation. He was then taken to the Treasure Island Police Department, which is right on the water, where Brownlow was made to wait till a jail van came to transport him to prison.
While he was being shifted to the transport van, Brownlow after a scuffle with one of the officers broke free and fled. "Brownlow broke free from the officer, ran toward Boca Ciega Bay and jumped into the water," according to a news release by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. As soon as he leaped into the water, paramedics from the fire department, whose headquarters are attached to police headquarters, were informed.
They pulled him out and performed CPR but couldn't revive him. Brownlow was pronounced dead at a hospital around 9.40 pm. The Medical Examiner's Office will conduct an autopsy, although the sheriff's office said his death does not appear to be suspicious in nature.
The police have to launch an investigation to ascertain if Brownlow had been experiencing a mental episode, or was under the influence. An answer on drug or alcohol involvement will have to await the autopsy. Moreover, the investigation is inevitable given that his death occurred in police custody.
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office did not divulge whether there was a video of the incident. That said, Brownlow is a repeat law offender and had a history with law enforcement in Pinellas County way back in 2013. And this is also not that first time that he tried to break free from police custody. His previous arrests include fleeing and eluding a police officer, aggravated battery, child neglect, multiple DUIs, and driving on a suspended or revoked license.