On-duty injury led to Miami cop's death, officials say

The 28-year-old's unexpected death was caused by a blood clot that formed after he suffered an ankle injury

Duty Death: Aubrey Johnson - [Miami, Florida]

End of Service: 10/01/2020


By Charles Rabin
Miami Herald

MIAMI — A young Miami police officer’s unexpected death last week was caused when a blood clot, which formed after a serious ankle injury, worked its way through his body and eventually cut off his blood flow, the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office said Tuesday.

Aubrey Johnson, a four-year veteran who was only 28, had torn his Achilles tendon in the line of duty, chasing a suspected drug dealer.

This image shows former Miami Police Officer Aubrey Johnson. (Photo/Miami Police Department)
This image shows former Miami Police Officer Aubrey Johnson. (Photo/Miami Police Department)

Johnson was home last Thursday when he started feeling disoriented and called his mother to say he was feeling ill. By the time his mom and firefighters got to the officer’s home, he was incapacitated and they had to break the door down. He was rushed to Jackson North Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

According to the medical examiner, Johnson technically died of “pulmonary thromboembolism” from the injury to his right leg. That means a blood clot killed him.

“In layman’s terms, a blood clot from his ankle injury broke free and found its way to his lungs where it became wedged and reduced blood and oxygen flow,” said Darren Caprara, director of operations at the ME’s office.

Miami police said Tuesday that Johnson’s death was considered on-duty and that he will be afforded full police honors at his funeral. He will be buried Thursday. Johnson is the 40th Miami police officer to die in the line of duty. His father, Aubrey Sr., is a retired senior staff member to the chief of police in Miami, and his mother, Delores, worked as a dispatcher.

Johnson, who worked the city’s central neighborhoods in Little Haiti and Model City, described the circumstances that led to his injury in a Sept. 17 incident report. Just before 6 p.m., he had approached a man in the passenger seat of a silver Infinity, near the corner of Northwest 17th Avenue and 69th Street, who was drinking a Black & Gold beer from an open container.

After he ordered the man from the car, a search of his bag turned up several clear plastic bags of suspected cocaine and marijuana, Johnson wrote. When Johnson and his sergeant tried to arrest the man, he took off. Johnson chased. The man got away. There is no mention of Johnson’s injury in the report.

Tommy Reyes, president of Miami’s Fraternal Order of Police, confirmed that Johnson injured his ankle during the foot chase and had been sidelined since.

The freak death of Johnson, a youth mentor in Miami’s Police Athletic League, hit the local law enforcement community hard. Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina said in a tweet that he was “heart broken.” And Delrish Moss, a former Miami police major and now a captain with the Florida International University police department, expressed “sadness” and “disbelief.”

“Sleep well A.J.,” Moss said in a tweet. “We will miss you.”

©2020 Miami Herald

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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