TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A man died after suffering a medical episode just before 10 p.m. on Friday.
The Tampa Police Department responded to a call from a family member of the man who told officials he was “hallucinating and trying to run into traffic.”
Upon arrival, officers located the man pacing in and across a roadway. The man would not respond to any requests from authorities or family members and eventually took off.
The man was eventually caught in a grassy area in a median but remained nonverbal, the department said.
Officers called for an ambulance, even though he was conscious and breathing at the time. The man’s brother disclosed to officers that the man had bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and had rolled and smoked marijuana prior to their arrival.
Once Tampa Fire Rescue paramedics arrived, the man was placed on a stretcher and was on the way to a nearby hospital.
According to officers, while en route to the hospital, the man began throwing up and went into cardiac arrest. As paramedics continued with pre-hospital care during the transport, the man was pronounced dead when they arrived.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of this young man,” said Tampa Police Chief Lee Bercaw. “Mental health crises and substance abuse can be incredibly difficult for all involved, and we are committed to doing everything we can to support those in need.”
“Our thoughts are with the patient’s family during this difficult time,” added Chief Barbara Tripp of Tampa Fire Rescue. “While our paramedics worked diligently to provide quality care in this situation, it is essential that access to preventative treatment and support services are readily available for both those struggling with mental health issues or substance abuse and the affected friends as well as family members who work to navigate a loved one experiencing a related crisis.”
For more information about the Tampa Police Department’s commitment to assisting individuals in crisis, please visit tampa.gov/police/mentalhealth.
Since the man died while in police custody, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is required to investigate his death.