Handcuffed suspect jumps in water in failed escape attempt

June 28, 2014 

A drunk-boating arrest turned violent Tuesday after, police say, a Palmetto Bay man jumped off a marine patrol boat while handcuffed and struggled with an officer who jumped in the water to save him.

Christopher Shane Crowley, 23, faces a felony escape charge, two misdemeanor counts of boating under the influence of alcohol and a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest without violence.

According to a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation arrest report, FWC Officer Christopher Mattson pulled over a personal watercraft driven by Crowley and a female friend around 2 p.m. off the ocean side of Tavernier around mile marker 92.

While performing a safety inspection of Crowley's vessel, Mattson wrote, he noticed Crowley slurred his speech and that his eyes were bloodshot. After being asked, Crowley said he drank two beers.

When Crowley showed the officer his fire extinguisher, the officer saw a 12-pack of Bud Light beer with only one can remaining. Crowley told the officer most of the beer had been drunk the night before on the Whale Harbor sandbar off Islamorada.

Crowley agreed to board the officer's boat for a field sobriety test, and Mattson wrote in his report that Crowley failed and appeared to be drunk. He decided to arrest Crowley.

After handcuffing Crowley, the officer tried to put a lifejacket on him. But Crowley, according to the arrest report, threatened to head-butt the officer if he came near him. Another FWC officer arrived after Mattson called for backup.

That's when Crowley jumped into the ocean -- while cuffed. The backup officer jumped in after him. He said he tried several times to calm Crowley down, but he stopped resisting only after the officer sprayed him with pepper spray.

The officer swam Crowley to shore at the Ocean Point Condos. He was taken to the Plantation Key jail and has since been released.

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