Arrest of Heart Transplant Recipient Who Died Wasn’t the Strongest; JSP Sergeant Says

Records show that Dexter Barry, 54, didn’t receive his anti-rejection medications while in the Duval County jail. He died a few days after he was released. Credit: Courtesy photo

By Nichole Manna | | A Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office sergeant deemed the arrest of a heart transplant recipient for a low-level misdemeanor as not “the strongest,” yet advised against reversing it, internal investigation documents show. Days after his release without crucial medication, the man died when his body rejected his heart.

The Sheriff’s Office cleared the arresting officer, but the investigation also showed the officer had called his supervising sergeant to ask if he could defer arresting Dexter Barry until the State Attorney’s Office had a chance to weigh in.

The sergeant, R. A. Goldstein., told Officer Jacob McKeon that since he had already handcuffed Barry, he shouldn’t reverse the decision, even if Barry had a heart condition.

This stance was taken despite Goldstein later acknowledging the arrest’s shaky grounds. Seth Stoughton, a former police officer and current law professor, disagreed with such inflexibility. Officers, he said, need to be able to take in new information and adjust accordingly.

“There is no magic ‘point of no return’,” Stoughton said. “An officer who has made an initial decision to effect a custodial arrest can legally continue the arrest process or change their mind and find a different way to resolve the situation.”

McKeon arrested Barry on Nov. 18, 2022, after Barry’s neighbor called 911 to report the men got into an argument about Wi-Fi access. A fight never occurred, but Barry was arrested on a simple assault charge after he admitted he told his neighbor “don’t make me f— you up” if he didn’t get off or pay for their shared Wi-Fi.

Barry spent 57 hours in JSO’s care and was released on Nov. 20. He died three days later after he collapsed in his living room. A private autopsy ordered by his family determined he died of a cardiac arrest after his body rejected his heart. Records confirm Barry never received his life-sustaining anti-rejection medication when he was jailed.


Arrest of heart transplant recipient who died wasn’t ‘the strongest,’ JSO sergeant said

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