Cop Watch

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Jacksonville Man Dies During Arrest For Open Container

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A 49-year-old unarmed man died in police custody Friday when a police officer took the man to the ground while arresting him for having an open container of alcohol, officials and witnesses said.

Evans and two other men were standing near his house early Friday when police arrested them. One of the men, Keith "Babyface" Stafford, 33, said they had not yet opened their cans of beer when they were handcuffed. He said Evans didn't struggle, but complained his handcuffs were too tight just before the officer took him to the ground.

Then Stafford said he heard a sickening crack.

"You never heard a sound like this," Stafford said. "When they flipped him over, they knew something was wrong."

The family of Evans, who is black, asked the NAACP for help and said they believe their loved one was the victim of both police brutality and racial profiling by a white police officer. Local NAACP officials planned to meet with Sheriff John Rutherford next week.

Underwood, 27, joined the Sheriff's Office in June 2003. He was placed on paid leave during the investigation.