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PCSO News Release

Media Contact:
Eleazer, Carrie

Public Information Officer 
News Date: 2/3/2012 

 PCSO Investigating Death of Inmate 


Polk County Sheriff's detectives are investigating the death of a Polk County inmate that occurred this morning, February 3, 2012, at Bartow Regional Medical Center. Preliminary information so far is as follows: 

40-year-old Anthony Dale McKnight, DOB 6/23/1971, of Haines City, was arrested by the Haines City Police Department on Tuesday, January 31, 2012, for Battery Domestic Violence, Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Illegal Anabolic Steroids, and Possession of Paraphernalia.  

According to the affidavit, McKnight yelled at, cursed at, and battered his wife in front of their children, during the evening hours of January 30th and again on the morning of January 31st. As a result of the battery, his wife suffered several bruises, which were seen and documented by Haines City Police Officers, who arrived on-scene after McKnight’s wife reported the battery. His wife told the officers McKnight has gone to her place of employment and made threats to kill her coworkers, and to kill her if he catches her cheating on him. His wife also told the officers that McKnight injects steroids and uses other drugs, and that she and their four children are very afraid of him. After his arrest by Haines City PD, he was booked in and then housed in the Central County Jail. 

Around 5:45 a.m. this morning (Friday, February 3rd) McKnight began making a scene in the jail, including hollering, banging on tables, and loudly expressing frustration over his incarceration. McKnight’s nickname in the jail, according to other inmates who were interviewed, is “Roid Rage.” During McKnight’s tantrum, inmate Joe Bean yelled at McKnight to calm down. Bean approached McKnight, and the two men engaged in a verbal fight which then turned physical. During the fight, McKnight threw Bean to the ground, got on top of him, and punched him repeatedly about the head and face. PCSO detention deputies quickly responded to and broke up the fight. The entire incident lasted a matter of moments. Both inmates signed waivers refusing to press charges against each other.  

Bean suffered several lacerations to his face, and McKnight had an abrasion on the knuckles of one hand, as a result of the fight. Inmate medical staff examined both inmates and treated their injuries. McKnight was returned to the dorm. 

Shortly after his return to the dorm, McKnight complained to other inmates and a detention deputy of feeling numbness in his left arm, sweating, and chest pains. He was taken to the jail infirmary, responsive and talking, telling one of the trustee inmates that he was feeling better. Within minutes of arriving at the infirmary, however, he collapsed. After collapsing, McKnight became unresponsive and stopped breathing. Jail staff performed CPR on McKnight until EMS arrived and continued life-saving measures while transporting him to Bartow Regional Medical Center. Doctors at the hospital pronounced McKnight deceased at 8:09 a.m. 

Preliminarily it appeared at BRMC that McKnight suffered a fatal heart attack. An autopsy was conducted today to determine exact cause of death. The autopsy revealed McKnight had an enlarged heart (nearly twice the size of a normal adult), and 95% blockage in the left descending coronary artery. The cause of death is consistent with heart attack, however the final ruling will not be determined until toxicology reports are completed. 

McKnight has been arrested in Florida on eight prior occasions: 

Arrested by PCSO in February 2006 for Contracting Without a License;

Arrested by PCSO in August 2000 for Battery Domestic Violence;

Arrested by Walton County SO in August 2000 for Battery;

Arrested by WHPD in April 1996 for Burglary, Resisting Arrest with Violence;

Arrested by HCPD in December 1995 for Operating Vehicle with No Valid DL;

Arrested by PCSO in March 1994 for VOP (Resisting Arrest with Violence) – sentenced to 3 years 6 months in state prison);

Arrested by PCSO in January 1993 for Trespassing After Warning;

Arrested by HCPD in April 1992 for Resisting Arrest with Violence, and FTA (Retail Theft);

Arrested by HCPD in October 1991 for Retail Theft. 

McKnight also has a history of injunctions for protections where he is the respondent – the most recent injunction against him was petitioned by his wife and awarded on February 2, 2012, after his January 31st arrest for domestic battery against her. Previous injunctions were petitioned by his wife and awarded in September 2011 and March 1996; another injunction was petitioned for and awarded to an Auburndale man with whom McKnight’s wife works after McKnight’s domestic battery arrest on January 31st. McKnight threatened the man with violence and accused the man of sleeping with his (McKnight’s) wife. 

This is an ongoing death investigation. It is standard PCSO policy for mandated, independent investigations to be conducted when an inmate dies. The PCSO Administrative Investigations Section is conducting an internal review. The PCSO Bureau of Criminal Investigations is conducting the death investigation. The Polk County Medical Examiner will conduct the autopsy to determine the manner and cause of death. PCSO has notified the State Attorney’s Office about this investigation, and upon its completion PCSO will forward all paperwork to the State Attorney’s Office for their review.