Frostproof, FL – A meth-fueled registered sex offender with a “f—k cops” tattoo on his face was pronounced dead at a local hospital after he violently attacked multiple Polk County deputies inside a detention facility last week, according to investigators.
The Lakeland Police Department (LPD) tracked down 46-year-old Eric Nelson on Dec. 23 in connection with a possible burglary at a Taco Bell restaurant located on U.S. Highway 98 North, WFTV reported.
After allegedly committing the burglary, Nelson fled on foot to a nearby Starbucks, where he was apprehended, according to police.
Investigators said the convicted sex offender had methamphetamine and syringes in his backpack at the time of his arrest.
Nelson allegedly told police he uses the syringes in order to “shoot meth,” and was ultimately arrested on charges of possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia, WFTV reported.
The career criminal was transported to the Sheriff’s Processing Center, where he was turned over to Polk County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) detention deputies.
That’s when Nelson allegedly became combative, kicking his cell door and yelling and cursing at jail staff while announcing that he “hadn’t slept in five days,” according to WFLA.
He noted that he had recently been released from prison and that “sometimes you have to prove yourself,” WFTV reported.
Jail medical staff said Nelson appeared to be under the influence of illegal drugs.
He also allegedly began threatening to harm other inmates and the deputies, resulting in him being transferred to the South County Jail in Frostproof, where he was placed in the medical dorm on suicide watch, according to WFTV.
Deputies directed Nelson to change out of his civilian clothing and to put on a smock, at which point the suspect allegedly punched a deputy in the face twice, WFLA reported.
Nelson proceeded to kick, bite, and hit three deputies as they struggled to place him in handcuffs, according to the PCSO.
Additional deputies jumped into the fray and attempted to subdue him by spraying a chemical agent, but it allegedly had no effect, WFLA reported.
The PCSO said the suspect “exhibited strength greater than a normal person” due to his extensive drug use.
The PCSO said deputies were finally able to subdue Nelson using leg shackles and handcuffs, but he still “continued to fight” them as they carried him to a private cell, WKMG reported.
Once inside the cell, the deputies placed Nelson on the ground so they could remove his restraints, according to WFLA.
But as they wrapped up and prepared to leave the cell, they realized Nelson was not breathing and was turning blue, the sheriff’s office said.
Jail medical staff immediately began CPR, WFTV reported.
Nelson was rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to WFLA.
The Polk County Medical Examiner will determine his manner and cause of death, WFTV reported.
The 10th Judicial Circuit Officer-Involved Deadly Incident Task Force is handling the investigation into the incident, as per standard procedure, according to the news outlet.
The PCSO Administrative Investigations Unit is completing an internal investigation.
The Florida States Attorney’s Office is conducting an independent investigation and will ultimately determine whether the deputies’ use of force was justified, WFTV reported.
In addition to the events of Dec. 23, Nelson also had a criminal history stretching back to 1996.
His prior convictions included rape, resisting arrest with violence, battery on a law enforcement officer, drug possession, grand theft, fugitive from justice, and failure of a sex offender to report name or residence change, according to WFTV.
Nelson racked up a total of 12 felony arrests over his lifetime, according to KMPH.