Three Sarasota men arrested on multiple drug charges after second execution of search warrant at home in about six weeks

All have extensive criminal records, court documents show

This map shows the location of the house where the two search warrants were executed. Image from Google Maps

During the second execution of a search warrant at the same home in approximately six weeks, Sarasota Police Department personnel on June 8 arrested three men on drug-related charges, the department has reported.

Just after 7 a.m. on Wednesday, June 8, a news release says, officers went to the house located at 1331 15th St. in Sarasota, where they had seized illegal narcotics and a firearm on April 26. In both cases, officers executed search warrants after receiving complaints from residents in the area and carrying out undercover drug buys, the release notes.

The three men were taken into custody on June 8 and transported to the Sarasota County Jail in downtown Sarasota, the release says. The Probable Cause Affidavits show that all of them reportedly lived at the residence. They are as follows:

  • Rodney L. Austin, 42, of Sarasota, who is a one-time convicted felon for Trafficking in Cocaine (28 to 200 grams), the release points out. He was in arrested April, as well, the release adds. Austin is facing charges of Trafficking in Cocaine 28 grams to 200 grams; Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Sell within 1,000 Feet of a Park; Possession of Structure for Trafficking in Controlled Substances; Tampering with Evidence; and resisting a law enforcement officer without violence. His bond was set at a total of $78,000, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Corrections Division records note.
  • Jason Lamar Austin Jr., 26, of Sarasota, also was arrested in April and again on June 8. He is facing charges of Trafficking in Cocaine 28 grams to 200 grams; Possession of Structure for Trafficking in Controlled Substances; Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Sell within 1,000 feet of a Park; Tampering with Evidence; and Violation of Probation. His total bond was set at $71,500, the Sheriff’s Office says. The probation violation charge resulted from his allegedly possessing more than 20 grams of marijuana, the records show.
  • Rashad L. Fields, 30, of Sarasota, who was arrested previously on June 7, has been charged with Trafficking in Cocaine 28 grams to 200 grams; Possession of Structure for Trafficking in Controlled Substances; Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Sell within 1,000 feet of a Park; and Tampering with Evidence, the release says. His total bond was set at $37,500.

The arraignment for each of the three suspects was scheduled for July 15, the Corrections Division records say.

The following illegal narcotics and currency were seized from the home, the release points out:

  • 96.1 grams of crack cocaine.
  • 465.1 grams of marijuana.
  • $2,645 in U.S. currency.

This case remains an active and ongoing investigation, the release adds. Anyone with any information relevant to it is asked to call the Sarasota Police Department Criminal Investigations Division at 941-263-6070.

Details of the June 8 event

This is a May 2021 street view of the house standing at 1331 15th St. in Sarasota. Image from Google Maps

Officers with several Police Department units — including the SWAT team — executed the search warrant on June 8, the Probable Cause Affidavits note. When a member of the SWAT team announced that “any and all occupants” should exit the house, the affidavits continue, Jason Austin Jr. and Fields came out of the front door. However, the affidavits point out, Rodney Austin “attempted to flee” to the west of the residence. Multiple officers gave him “verbal commands to get on the ground,” the affidavits add, and he allegedly continued to resist them while he was being taken into custody in the back yard of the house standing at 1404 Cocoanut Ave.

The affidavits also note that all three suspects “aided in the attempt to dispose of illicit narcotics by gathering them from different locations in the residence, and bringing them to the single bathroom in the residence, where they began flushing [them] down the toilet …”

Money and drugs reported to have been found in the house at 1331 15th St. are laid out on a Sarasota Police Department table. Image courtesy Sarasota Police Department

Prior charges against defendants

In reviewing records of the 12th Judicial Circuit Court, The Sarasota News Leader found multiple traffic and drug counts filed against Rodney Austin, along with a battery case in July 2006.

Rodney Austin. Image courtesy Sarasota Police Department

For one example, in June 2007, he was charged with Trafficking in Cocaine and Resisting Arrest without Violence. In that case, a Sarasota Police Department officer observed a Honda sedan fail to stop for a stop sign while making a southbound turn onto Cocoanut Avenue from westbound 12th Street. Officers also saw that the window tint of the car “was very dark,” the Probable Cause Affidavit said.

After the officers stopped the vehicle in the 1000 block of Cocoanut Avenue, they found four occupants in it. When they ordered the occupants to lower their windows, because of the dark tint, an officer at the driver’s side and another at the passenger side “could immediately small a strong odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle,” the affidavit noted.

The officers then requested that each occupant of the Honda exit it, one at a time. Austin was in the back seat on the passenger side, the affidavit said. In response to the request to get out of the sedan, the affidavit noted, Austin “became very belligerent” and refused. One of the officers then observed that Austin was “trying to reach inside his pockets.” That officer reached into the vehicle, grabbed Austin’s hand and ordered him to keep his hands out of his pockets, the affidavit pointed.

After the officer pulled Austin from the vehicle, the affidavit continued, both officers “had to force his arms into a handcuffing position.” A short struggle ensued until they could get him into handcuffs, the affidavit said.

During a subsequent search of Austin, one officer “recovered a clear plastic bag containing two large baggies of powder,” the affidavit noted. When the officer was pulling the narcotics from Austin’s pocket, the affidavit added, Austin “spontaneously stated, ‘[Y]ou guys think [you] made a big bust [but] you couldn’t solve s**t.’”

The cocaine weighed 58 grams, the affidavit said.

Ultimately, in July 2009, the court sentenced Austin to three years in jail and ordered him to pay a $50,000 fine, court records show. Austin appealed the decision, but the Second District Court of Appeal affirmed the 12th Circuit Court’s decision, the records add. The final notation on that docket shows that, in late January of this year, the Sarasota County Clerk of Court’s Office sent the case to a collections agency, with Harris owing $52,918.

Additionally, in February 2008, he was charged with a misdemeanor count of Gambling. That case involved officers conducting who were conducting surveillance; they said had observed Austin in a dice game with about five other people.

Austin ended up pleading “No Contest” in that case and was ordered to serve time in jail and pay $203 in fines and fees. The last notation on that docket said the case was sent to a collections agency in late January 2022, as well, with Austin still owing $83.

In searching the Circuit Court records for Jason L. Austin Jr., the News Leader found that in August 2017, he was charged with Aggravated Assault with a Weapon without Intent to Kill, Possession of Less Than 20 grams of Marijuana, and Resisting a Law Enforcement Officer without violence.

The Probable Cause Affidavit in that case says that police officers were dispatched at 1 p.m. to a house on 23rd Street in Sarasota in regard to reports of a family dispute. They had been told that a male had pointed a gun to a woman’s head while the two were in a vehicle, the affidavit added.

Jason L. Austin Jr. Image courtesy Sarasota Police Department

The first officer on the scene “observed [Austin] acting erratically and flailing his arms in anger,” the affidavit continued. Because of the nature of the 911 call, the affidavit explained, the officer “conducted a pat down of [Austin’s] outer clothing and then commanded [Austin] to sit down on the ground.” When Austin refused to follow those orders, the affidavit added, the officer placed him in handcuffs “for officer safety purposes.”

When a second officer arrived, the affidavit continued, Austin “got off the ground and began running [westbound] through the front yard,” as he attempted to elude that officer. When the officer caught up with him, Austin “began jerking his body away,” the affidavit added, so the officer “performed a takedown on [him].” While the officer had his right knee on Austin’s back, the affidavit continued, Austin “yelled ‘Kill me!’ over and over.”

The first officer on the scene then came over and assisted the second one; they were able to walk Austin back to the second officer’s patrol car. However, while attempting to place Austin in the vehicle, the affidavit said, he slammed his head [into] the window,” which resulted in the officers conducting a second takedown.

Finally, one officer was able to go back to the vehicle where Austin allegedly threatened the female and found a firearm in a black shoebox on the floorboard on the rear of the driver’s side. That box also contained a bag of marijuana, the affidavit noted.

The victim told an officer that she and Austin had become engaged in an argument because Austin was angry that she had been seeing another man and was pregnant, the affidavit said. Austin denied ever having pointed a gun at her, the affidavit added, but he did admit that the marijuana belonged to him.

In March 2018, court records show, Austin pleaded “No contest” to the charges and was sentenced to time served in the county jail, followed by 18 months of probation, a court document shows. However, in March 2019, he was charged with violating his probation, another court document says.

Rashad Fields. Image courtesy Sarasota Police Department

Austin also has prior charges in traffic cases, court records show, including Driving While License Suspended or Revoked, Failure to Display Registration, and Operating a Vehicle with Defective Equipment.

In searching for prior charges filed against Rashad Fields, the News Leader found counts going back to August 2014, including Burglary of Unoccupied Dwelling, Dealing in Stolen Property, Larceny of more than $300 but less than $5,000; and Possession of a Controlled Substance without Prescription.

In searching for prior charges filed against Rashad Fields, the News Leader found counts going back to August 2014, including Burglary of Unoccupied Dwelling, Dealing in Stolen Property, Larceny of more than $300 but less than $5,000; and Possession of a Controlled Substance without Prescription.

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