Florida Keys

Toxicology report: Man who died in police custody tests positive for ‘high levels’ of cocaine

The body of a Marathon man who died while riding in the back of a Monroe County Sheriff’s Office patrol car in April tested positive for high levels of cocaine, according to the preliminary toxicology report from the medical examiner.

Clifford Green, 39, died on April 8 shortly after he was pulled over by Monroe County Sheriff's Office Detective Iscandel Perez at mile 98.5 marker southbound in Key Largo. He went into seizure in the back of a deputy’s car while being driven to the Plantation Key jail and was pronounced dead shortly after at Mariners Hospital in Tavernier.

“All of the information I have is consistent with an accidental overdose of cocaine,” Sheriff Rick Ramsay said in a statement Monday.

Perez stopped Green for driving a 1992 Buick Park Avenue with windows the detective deemed tinted too dark. Perez had been traveling northbound at mile marker 100 when he saw the Buick go by and turned around to pull it over. It was around 1:20 p.m.

Green, Perez wrote in a report, was "fidgeting about inside of the vehicle" before pulling over at mile marker 98.5.

Perez wrote that a computer check showed Green's license was suspended for failure to pay child support and that he was on probation for a drug conviction.

Deputy Matthew Koval arrived at the scene and they arrested Green on a charge of driving with a suspended license.

Meanwhile, Perez searched the outside of the Buick using a K-9 dog and the dog "alerted to the presence of narcotics on the passenger's side front door," the detective wrote. Then Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Michael Jordan arrived and he and Perez searched the inside of the car.

Jordan, Perez wrote, found "a beaker and large quantity of blue clear plastic Baggies commonly used to package narcotics inside a paper bag in the back seat of the vehicle. No narcotics were found inside the vehicle at this time."

Deputy Thomas Hill also arrived and agreed to take Green to the Plantation Key jail.

Perez and Hill then both headed south in their respective cars and, Perez wrote, about 2:21 p.m., he saw Hill's car pulled over with its emergency lights on at U.S. 1 and Jo Jean Way (mile marker 91.5). Green was "face down on the asphalt" and Hill was trying to help him on his side.

Perez pulled over and got out of his car to help, and wrote that Green appeared to be having some kind of medical complication. He was "vomiting, having tremors and irregular breathing."

Perez wrote he saw "what appeared to be a cellophane bag with suspected cocaine inside" Green's mouth. Hill removed the bag from Green's mouth, had called emergency medical services and removed Green's handcuffs.

EMS took Green to Mariners Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 2:50 p.m.

Ramsay said he called the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate for an impartial, outside investigation.

Ramsay said this week that he’s confident the FDLE will find his deputies acted properly in their interaction with Green.

“I have reviewed the audio and video evidence, and I have not seen or heard any indication there was a struggle of any kind in the apprehension, arrest, or transport of Mr. Green,” Ramsay said. “While we will have to wait until the conclusion of the independent FDLE investigation and subsequent review by the state attorney’s office, it does not appear there was any wrongdoing on the part of the deputies involved,” Sheriff Ramsay said.

Green has past convictions for cocaine-related charges.