Suspect hospitalized following escape from Sarasota Police patrol car

SARASOTA, FL. -- May 8, 2015 -- 10 a.m.
The Sarasota Police Department has learned from the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office that John Paul Kaafi, 33, passed away on Friday.  The Sarasota Police Department learned this information through the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office initial investigation.  Kaafi passed away at 7:46 a.m. Friday, May 8, 2015.

The Sarasota Police Department is fully cooperating with the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office death investigation per standard operating procedure.

Initial review of documents, observation made by Sarasota Police Department Officers as well as cocaine that was located in the vehicle Kaafi was riding in, the initial investigation shows Kaafi was under the influence of drugs. 

Kaafi had been taken into custody on Wednesday, May 6, 2015, was handcuffed behind his back and charged with several felonies before maneuvering his hands in front of his body, still handcuffed, and diving and escaping from a patrol car.

The Medical Examiner's Office is conducting an autopsy and toxicology tests and the Sarasota Police Department is awaiting those results.

This remains an active and ongoing death investigation being investigated by the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office.

Media availability from Friday, May 8, 2015 from Chief Bernadette DiPino can be viewed below.

SARASOTA, Fla -- May 7, 2015 -- 5 p.m.

The Sarasota Police Department is cooperating with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office in the incident involving a suspect who suffered medical distress Wednesday evening. John Paul Kaafi, 33, suffered medical distress following an escape from a patrol car, while handcuffed and in custody of the Sarasota Police Department.

Kaafi, 33, (date of birth 9/25/1981) is a white male and has a last known address of 2517 Glebe Farm Close in Sarasota, and is currently receiving medical treatment at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.

On Wednesday, May 6, 2015 at approximately 9 p.m., Officer Juan Jaimes with the Sarasota Police Department conducted a traffic stop for a vehicle that did not have a working tag light near the intersection of 8th Street and North Orange Avenue in Sarasota. When Officer Jaimes stopped the vehicle, he observed Kaafi raise-up from his seat and begin to reach around his right side. Concerned a weapon may be found, Officer Jaimes made a passenger side approach to the vehicle. As Officer Jaimes arrived at the passenger side window, Kaafi reached into his front right shorts cargo pocket.

Officer Jaimes asked Kaafi to take his hands out of his pocket, which he did. Officer Jaimes then asked Kaafi and the driver to place their hands on the dashboard of the vehicle. Officer Jaimes asked for backup and as he waited, Officer Jaimes observed Kaafi chewing something, licking his lips and acting extremely nervous.

Officer Adam Arena and Officer Laura Markey arrived on scene. For Officer safety, Officer Jaimes asked Kaafi to step out of the vehicle. Due to Kaafi’s gestures and movements, Officer Jaimes told Kaafi he was not under arrest but he was being detained for Officer safety.

Officer Jaimes handcuffed Kaafi’s left hand and when Officer Jaimes attempted to handcuff Kaafi’s right hand, Kaafi began to pull away. Officer Jaimes was able to handcuff Kaafi at which time Kaafi began reaching into his waist band. Officer Jaimes told Kaafi to stop reaching but he refused and began

backing toward Officer Jaimes while attempting to twist his body away. Kaafi continued to twist his body and Officer Jaimes wrestled him to the ground. While on the ground, Officer Jaimes gave several verbal commands for Kaafi to stop moving but Kaafi began thrashing his legs, making contact with Officer Jaimes’ legs several times in the process.

While on the ground, Kaafi screamed he did not wish to go to jail and he did not want to lose custody of his kids. Kaafi yelled that he had asthma, at which time, officers immediately contacted dispatch and requested EMS respond. Officers cancelled EMS after Kaafi appeared to be feeling better, was breathing better and was not showing any symptoms and tried to offer a deal with officers. At that time, Kaafi was placed under arrest for resisting without violence. Officer Arena located a vial which contained several white crumbs which a field test which tested positive for cocaine.

Officer Jaimes developed probable cause to arrest Kaafi, who was the passenger, for possession of cocaine (felony) and possession of drug paraphernalia (misdemeanor). Officer Markey also located two baggies of "spice"/designer drug inside the front passenger side glove compartment which the driver said Kaafi had placed there upon getting into the vehicle. Kaafi was also charged with possession of a designer drug (misdemeanor).

Shortly after officers were able to calm down Kaafi, he was able to speak with officers. Kaafi told Officer Jaimes not to take him to jail and offered to help police by saying "I can get you something good Jaimes; I can get you some people right now, just don’t take me to jail."

Officer Jaimes attempted to place Kaafi in the back of the patrol car. Kaafi began yelling and screaming that he did not want to go to jail and refused to put his feet inside the vehicle. Officer Jaimes was able to talk Kaafi into placing his feet inside the patrol car.

Officer Jaimes began to transport Kaafi to the Sarasota County Jail. While on route to the jail, Kaafi asked Officer Jaimes not to take him to jail. While at the intersection of Frutiville Road and US 301, Kaafi asked Officer Jaimes to put the rear windows down in order to get some air. Officer Jaimes lowered the rear/passenger side window half-way down and advised Kaafi he had turned the A/C higher for him.

While waiting in the eastbound turn lane of Ringling Boulevard and US 301, Officer Jaimes heard Kaafi vigorously moving and then unexpectedly dive out of the rear passenger window. Kaafi had managed to move his arms, which had been handcuffed behind his back, to the front of his body. Kaafi began running westbound in the 1900 block of Ringling Blvd.

Officer Jaimes immediately exited his vehicle, advised dispatch and began pursing Kaafi on foot. While in pursuit, Officer Jaimes yelled commands for Kaafi to stop or he would be tased but Kaafi refused and continued running. Officer Jaimes deployed his taser with no visible effect. Kaafi continued running across the median, at which time he tripped and fell on the roadway. As Officer Jaimes approached Kaafi, Kaafi attempted to get up and get away. Officer Arena arrived and deployed his taser and the two officers were able to gain control of Kaafi until other officers arrived to assist.

Kaafi was transported to the Sarasota County Jail sally port. While in the sally port, Kaafi spoke with Officer Jaimes, stated he was sorry and that he did not want to go to jail. At that time, Kaafi was charged with escape (felony).

After arriving at the Sarasota County Jail sally port, officers asked Kaafi to exit the patrol car, which he did under his own power. Kaafi told officers he was having an asthma attack. Officer Jaimes immediately contact EMS and they arrived shortly after. While waiting for EMS to arrive, Kaafi was speaking with officers and breathing without any apparent difficulty. Officer Arena and Officer Jaimes helped Kaafi into the ambulance. Kaafi was transported to Sarasota Memorial Hospital.

Kaafi’s past criminal charges include escape, aggravated battery, fleeing and eluding, burglary, possession of narcotics and probation violation. Kaafi has been sentenced to prison four different times.

Officer Jaimes, Officer Arena and Officer Markey are on temporary leave of duty per Sarasota Police Department policy. The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office is the lead investigator on this case and the Sarasota Police Department is fully cooperating with their investigation which is standard operating procedure.

    John Paul Kaafi, 33,


John Paul Kaafi, 33,