Man who died after altercation with West Melbourne officers identified

Autopsy showed 'no gross trauma' to man's neck

By Adrienne Cutway - Web Editor

WEST MELBOURNE, Fla. - West Melbourne police officials released the name of a man who died after some sort of physical altercation with two of the department's officers at a Publix Monday morning.

Officials said Tuesday afternoon that 45-year-old Donald Edward Whitmer, Jr., of Palm Bay, died after the incident at 2261 West New Haven Ave.

Preliminary results of an autopsy completed Tuesday morning showed "no gross trauma" to Whitmer's neck, according to a news release. A final autopsy report is pending.

"The men and women of the West Melbourne Police Department would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Whitmer. We know this is a difficult time for them as they cope with his passing," West Melbourne Police officials said in a statement to the media.

Records show that a Publix employee called 911 around 10 a.m. to report a seemingly confused man who had been going in and out of the store for about 35 minutes.

"I have a customer in the store that seems to be confused. I don't know if he's on drugs," the caller said.

News 6 partner Florida Today reported that officers arrived at the store and asked Whitmer to leave, which he did, but then returned. 

"Officers arrived to find the subject being uncooperative and a physical altercation ensued. During the altercation, the subject became unresponsive," Capt. Rich Cordeau said in an email to Florida Today.

Details of the physical altercation have not been released but on Tuesday officials identified the two officers as Officer Jacob Mathis and Officer Kevin Krukoski.

Neither officer has a disciplinary record and both have been placed on paid administrative leave while the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigates the incident.

Neighbors on Edgevale Road in Palm Bay remembered Whitmer as a man who mostly kept to himself but was also polite.

"He was a pretty cool guy," Veronica Needham said.                     

Body camera footage of the encounter will not be released at this time. 

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