Florida man dies after escaping custody, jumping into bay while handcuffed, authorities say

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A handcuffed Florida man in police custody drowned on Sunday after he broke free from an officer and jumped into the Boca Ciega Bay, according to authorities.

Donnie Brownlow Jr., 33, had been arrested by police who responded Sunday evening to reports of a domestic disturbance in Treasure Island, which is near Tampa Bay.

Brownlow 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 to wait for a jail transport van.

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Donnie Brownlow Jr., 33, was transported to a local area hospital where he was pronounced dead around 9:40 p.m.

Donnie Brownlow Jr., 33, was transported to a local area hospital where he was pronounced dead around 9:40 p.m. (2019 mugshot, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office)

“Detectives say while being escorted to the transport van and in handcuffs, 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.

Paramedics would pull Brownlow from the water and performed CPR, deputies said. He was then transported to a local area hospital where he was pronounced dead around 9:40 p.m.

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. An investigation is ongoing.

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Brownlow had a history with law enforcement in Pinellas County, dating back to 2013, jail records show, according to Fox 13 Tampa Bay.

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Previous arrests include fleeing and eluding a police officer, aggravated battery, child neglect, multiple DUIs, and driving on a suspended or revoked license, the station reported.

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