Suspect’s death while in Sheriff’s Office custody under investigation

32-year-old Sarasota man arrested on allegations of drug possession and probation violation

This is a 2021 mugshot of Austin Lee Cox. Photo courtesy Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the Sept. 13 death of a suspect who was in custody following an arrest for alleged drug possession and a probation violation, the agency has announced.

At 4:55 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 13, Austin L. Cox, 32, was arrested in the area of 2222 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Sarasota “after deputies observed what appeared to be a narcotics transaction,” a news release says. A subsequent search of the Cox “revealed marijuana and THC wax,” the release adds. Cox also was “charged with violating the terms of his probation,” the release notes.

“While en route to the correctional facility,” the release continues, Cox was observed arching his back,” apparently to retrieve something from his clothing. The deputy who was driving stopped the vehicle and asked another deputy to assist with the situation, the release says.

A plastic bag was discovered in Cox’s mouth, and “a white, powdery substance” was found on his clothing and on the car seat, the release points out.

As he was being removed from the vehicle, the release continues, Cox told the deputies, “ ‘It was only cocaine,’ ” and indicated that he had hidden it in his rectum prior to his being stopped by deputies.

Shortly afterward, the release says, “Cox presented symptoms of a seizure. Deputies called an ambulance and administered several doses of Naloxone (Narcan) to reverse the effects of a potential overdose.”

Additionally, the release notes, firefighters/paramedics with the Sarasota County Fire Department “arrived and attempted life-saving procedures.”

Cox was transported to Sarasota Memorial Hospital, “where he was pronounced deceased at 5:50 p.m.”

The release points out, “The case will remain open pending the investigation of the medical examiner and review of additional evidence.”

The red balloon on this aerial map marks the location of 2222 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Sarasota. image from Google Maps

A Sarasota News Leader search of 12th Judicial Court records found that, in October 2021, Cox was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to sell, manufacture or deliver it; possession of methamphetamine without a prescription; and a second, subsequent offense of driving without a license.

His address was noted as 7125 Fruitville Road.

In that case, he was arrested near the Fruitville Road interchange with Interstate 75, the Probable Cause Affidavit said.

Court records show that he ended up entering a plea of “No Contest” on Aug. 19 2022. He was sentenced to 11 months and 29 days in jail, another court document notes. That was to be followed by 48 months of probation. He ended up violating probation in that case, yet another court record says, resulting in a modification of the terms of probation.