An autopsy report concluded that a protester suspected of setting a police car on fire died of a drug overdose and complications from mental illness and heart disease days after struggling with officers.
The Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s office concluded Giovanni Franchesko Fernandez, 38, died June 10 of “acute eutylone toxicity” that complicated symptoms of schizophrenia, the Miami Herald reported.
Eutylone, a synthetic drug sometimes known as “bath salts,” is similar to designer drugs sold on the streets as Ecstasy or Molly.
The FBI and Miami police said Fernandez was one of the protesters who torched a Miami police car May 30 during a protest against police brutality following the death of George Floyd. Floyd's death while in police custody in Minnesota was captured on video and sparked nationwide rallies against law enforcement brutality.
On June 8, Miami police released a still photo of the tattooed suspect accused of torching one of the cars, the Herald reported.
They later learned that five days earlier, Fernandez had approached Miami Beach police officers while “acting erratically and making several random statements.” Fernandez asked officers for a phone charger, the medical examiner's report said.
Fernandez was “sweating profusely and was experiencing difficulty breathing," authorities said.
When officers told him they were going to take him to the hospital, Fernandez began to struggle. He tried to bang his head on the pavement, but officers stopped him, the report said.
Fernandez when into cardiac arrest while paramedics were treating him, the autopsy report said. He was hospitalized under Florida's Baker Act, which allows involuntary committal for at least 72 hours.
A hospital employee alerted authorities after recognizing Fernandez from an FBI flier, the newspaper reported.
Miami Police had planned to arrest Fernandez on charges for arson, criminal mischief, and inciting a riot, but he died after seven days in the hospital, the Herald reported.
Fernandez, who was unemployed and receiving disability benefits, had a long history of suffering from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, and psychosis, and had been committed for evaluations under the Baker Act 21 times, the autopsy report said.
Fernandez’s mother declined to speak to the Herald.