Florida Inmate Dies After Fight With Deputies

Polk County inmate Eric Nelson died in custody after attacking detention deputies at the Counties South Jail annex in Frostproof.

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Nelson was arrested by the Lakeland police department when they received a call of a possible burglary suspect running northbound on U.S. 98 near the Taco Bell. Lakeland police captured Nelson in the Starbucks parking lot and searched him. While searching Nelson’s backpack, he was found to have syringes and a baggie of a substance that tested positive for methamphetamine. Nelson told the officers he uses the needles to “shoot meth.”

Nelson was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia charges and transported to the Polk County Sheriff’s Processing Center.

Upon arrival, Nelson became agitated and started cursing at everyone there. Nelson said he hadn’t slept in five days and had just been released from prison.

Medical staff stated that nelson appeared to be under the influence of narcotics. He was placed in an individual cell, where he became more enraged and started kicking the cell door.

Medical staff said Nelson needed to be placed in a medical dorm and on suicide watch due to his behavior.

Deputies now had to transport Nelson to the South County Jail facility in Frostproof. Nelson was taken to a medical dorm room, where he took off his shirt, and the fight was on! He immediately punched one deputy in the face twice and began a full-on assault of all three deputies. More deputies entered the room, and Nelson continued to punch, kick, and fight as he was taken to the ground. Nelson swung at a deputy using an arm with a handcuff attached to it! Folks, getting struck with an open handcuff will get you severely injured!

Deputies eventually secured Nelson in handcuffs and placed shackles on his legs, but he continued to fight four deputies as he was carried to a cell.

When they arrived at the holding cell, Nelson was placed on the floor according to policy so deputies could remove his restraints. That’s when the deputies observed that Nelson wasn’t breathing, and his face was changing color.

Nurses at the jail retrieved an AED and started CPR, and Nelson was transported to a local hospital, where he later died.

The Officer-Involved Deadly Incident task force will investigate Nelson’s in-custody death with the 10th Judicial Circuit, the Polk County Sheriff’s office, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE.) The Polk County Medical Examiner will conduct the autopsy to determine Nelson’s cause of death.


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