John Kaafi was arrested during a routine traffic stop by police in Sarasota, Florida, last Wednesday at about 8:45 p.m.
According to a Probable Cause Affidavit, Kaafi, a passenger, was detained because of his "demeanor" during the stop for a broken tag light.
Police claimed that Kaafi refused to cooperate., but a wtiness told ABC 7 (video below), "I saw the cops like shoving the guy around in handcuffs, they ripped his shirt. It looked like the cops were being rude to him and, I mean, he didn't do anything wrong I don’t think."
One police officer said in the Probable Cause Affidavit, "Due to his gestures and movements … I grabbed the defendant and told him he was not under arrest, but being detained due to his demeanor."
At some point during the incident, Kaafi told police that he had asthma, so officers called for an ambulance, but later canceled the call.
According to the police report, a vial with cocaine residue and two baggies of “spice,” a drug, were allegedly found on Kaafi.
Police say that Kaafi climbed out of the police car after a window was lowered partway, began running down a street and was tasered twice.
Kaafi was taken back into custody, and transported to the Sarasota County Jail.
Sarasota County Emergency Medical Services was called on Thursday, and Kaafi was taken to the Sarasota Memorial Hospital on Thursday (video below) where he died on Friday morning. He was 33.
Three Sarasota police officers were put on administrative leave while an investigation by the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office proceeds.
Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino said at a press conference on Friday, “I believe the individual was under the influence of drugs, but we do have to wait for toxicology.”
According to the Herald-Tribune, Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight said in a written statement:
The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office is conducting a death investigation. I'm disappointed that the police department chose to put extensive information out before my detectives have had the opportunity to confirm the facts of this case, to include locating and speaking with all witnesses, and locate and process all evidence.
We will do so in a timely manner, but must await the Medical Examiner's determination including toxicology reports, which can take several weeks.
Kaafi had several prior arrests, and had done time in prison, noted ABC 7.