Handcuffed Florida man drowns after escaping police custody and jumping into Boca Ciega Bay

Donnie Brownlow Jr. made the ill-fated run while being transported from Treasure Island Police Department to the jail


                            Handcuffed Florida man drowns after escaping police custody and jumping into Boca Ciega Bay
Mugshot from an earlier arrest (Pinellas County Sheriff's Office)
ADVERTISEMENT

TREASURE ISLAND, FLORIDA: A man has drowned after escaping police custody. Donnie Brownlow Jr. was arrested Sunday night, September 6, by Treasure Island Police Officers, however, he broke free and jumped into Boca Ciega Bay with handcuffs on. He was later declared dead.

According to reports, Treasure Island Police Officers responded to a domestic disturbance call at 111 104th Avenue at around 7:30 pm. After the investigation, the 33-year-old man was arrested for domestic battery, obstruction, felony driving while license suspended or revoked, and violation of probation. Cops took him to the Treasure Island Police Department, where they waited for a jail transport van to take Brownlow Jr. to jail. Deputies said as an officer was taking Brownlow Jr. to the van, he escaped and ran toward Boca Ciega Bay before jumping into the water. He was wearing handcuffs at the time. The Treasure Island Fire Department paramedics then got him out of the water and CPR was performed. He was then taken to the Palms of Pasadena Hospital, where he was declared dead at around 9:40 pm.

ADVERTISEMENT

However, this was not the first time Brownlow Jr. had been arrested. Jail records showed he was earlier arrested for fleeing and eluding a police officer, aggravated battery, child neglect, several DUIs, and driving on a suspended or revoked license. Though police said his death did not seem suspicious in nature, an autopsy will be conducted by the Medical Examiner's Office. Also, reports stated that since Brownlow Jr. died while being in police custody, an investigation has been launched by detectives in the sheriff’s robbery and homicide unit.

The death of Brownlow Jr. comes as the US police are under scrutiny following the deaths of George Floyd and Jacob Blake. While Floyd died in police custody in May after a former Minnepolis officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes, Blake suffered serious injuries after multiple shots from police. Both the incidents have sparked a wide range of protests across the nation. People have come out on the streets against police brutality and racial injustice.

Meanwhile, in another incident, a Black jogger from Florida was offered a job by a sheriff after he was wrongly detained by police. Joseph Griffin was jogging last week when deputies from the Volusia Sheriff's Office approached him since he fit the description of a burglary suspect.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Volusia Sheriff Mike Chitwood said the officers were looking out for a burglar, also a Black man, who was wearing a white tank top, dark shorts and a beard in the area when they saw Griffin, who matched the description. However, after an investigation, the Black man was freed after he stood there with the cops for more than 12 minutes. Officers also apologized to him for the inconvenience caused and also thanked him for his calm attitude.

In compensation of the mishap, Griffin, a former military policeman, who currently works as a registered nurse, was offered a job by Chitwood. The sheriff said, “Mr. Griffin is a military veteran and a medical professional, and I told him we’d train and hire him as a deputy in a second if he ever wants a new job.” Chitwood also appreciated the deputies as he added: “I want to take a moment to stand up and recognize the great work of every deputy involved in this call. Not only were they respectful to Mr. Griffin - they held his phone for him so he could stay on video on Facebook Live. There are about 18 minutes of video here if you want to see it. Witness descriptions are never perfect, and these deputies did an outstanding job given the limited information they had about a call in progress. AND they arrested the suspect actually responsible for the burglary.”

ADVERTISEMENT