A Florida man who was hospitalized after being arrested by police died Friday, local officials announced. John Paul Kaafi, who was 33, had complained of an asthma attack and also was Tased twice when he was arrested, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.

Kaafi was arrested Wednesday evening and was suspected of carrying cocaine as well as drug paraphernalia, according to a statement by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office. Media reports indicated that Kaafi was also carrying a synthetic drug known as spice. After his arrest, when Kaafi arrived at the Sarasota County Jail, he complained of having an asthma attack and was transported to a local hospital, where officers were sent to guard him. The sheriff’s office said that it was “investigating the incident,” and the Sarasota Police Department was conducting its own “administrative review.”


Three Sarasota police officers were placed on administrative leave as a result of the investigation, the Herald Tribune reported, and one local official objected to the level of detail made public regarding Kaafi’s arrest and subsequent death. Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight said in a statement that he was “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." He added that it could take weeks for a full medical report including toxicology results to be available.

Kaafi said he had asthma when he was initially arrested and wrestled to the ground, according to reports. He was placed in a patrol car, but managed to escape by diving out of the car window after maneuvering his handcuffed hands to the front of his body, WFLA reported. He began running, and officers pursued him on foot, tasing him twice before they could stop him. Once he had been brought to jail, Kaafi said that he was having an asthma attack, at which point an ambulance was called.