Florida police officer’s wife dies while trapped in rear of hot police SUV

(Yahoo News) - The wife of a veteran Miami police officer died after she became trapped in the rear of his patrol SUV, while he was asleep inside their home.

Florida police officer’s wife dies while trapped in rear of hot police SUV

On Friday, Clara Paulino died in the back seat of the police SUV in Miami Shores, Florida, as her husband, Aristides Paulino, slept inside their home after he had completed a night shift with the Miami-Dade Police Department.

Mr Paulino left the SUV unlocked on the family’s driveway, and the 56-year-old climbed into the rear of the vehicle while looking for something, but got trapped when the door closed, according to the Miami Herald.

Ms Paulino did not carry a mobile phone into the car, and was unable to honk the horn for help, as the SUV is fitted with a safety partition to prevent people detained from reaching the front seats.

Stephen Mitchell, the general services bureau director for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, told the Herald that most police vehicles feature mechanisms that prevent them from being opened from the inside.

“That’s standard option with most law enforcement vehicles so that a detainee can’t get out of the back of the vehicle,” he said.

Miami-Dade detectives found Ms Paulino’s fingerprints all over the inside of the SUV, and an officer told the Herald that “clearly, she was panicked and trying to get out.”

Temperatures rose well above 90f in Miami on Friday, and Ms Paulino spent several hours in the backseat of the vehicle, that one officer described as “literally a cage.”

Mr Paulino, who has served the midnight shift in the local Wynwood neighbourhood for nearly two decades, has been a police officer in Miami for more than 25 years.

A law enforcement source told the Herald that Ms Paulino had a history of medical issues, that may have contributed to her death inside the vehicle.

Investigators are treating the death of the 56-year-old as an accident, but it remains under investigation by the Miami-Dade Police Department’s Homicide Bureau, according to the New York Post.

Police spokesman, lieutenant Carlos Rosario told the Herald that “It’s very preliminary,” but added: “There’s still a lot of work to be done. But right now, it’s an unclassified death.”