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Man dies in custody  

A Key West man died early this morning after being taken into custody by Key West police.

Key West police responded to a call about a disturbance involving a man with a knife at a Julia Street residence at about 12:37 a.m., Key West Police Detective Lt. Jim Benkoczy said. Forty-three-year-old Alexander Pla had reportedly barricaded himself in the house, he said. Officers entered the house because they were concerned about his safety and welfare and took him into protective custody.

When Pla became combative, he was pepper sprayed. Benkoczy said Pla was brought to the station to be checked out by paramedics because of his bizarre behavior and the effects of the spray. He stopped breathing while being examined and was rushed to Lower Keys Medical Center where he died, he said.

As is standard procedure in such cases, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the death. Benkoczy said the Monroe County Medical Examiner will conduct an autopsy later today.

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