A video circulating on Facebook shows a possible case of police brutality in Sarasota. The suspect’s family has now secured a high profile law firm.
On Saturday night, a traffic stop escalated quickly.
Police say during the stop, they noticed 40-year-old passenger Govinda Howell acting erratically. He wouldn’t respond to commands and appeared to be under the influence. A scuffle followed, in which he appeared to ingest drugs. His family says he pleaded with the cops, telling them he had a mental illness but was brutally beaten into a coma.
“It is time that we speak up with one voice as a community to put a stop to the madness,” said aunt Gilda Williams.
The family hired prominent Chicago law firm Romanucci and Blandin. The firm recently won a record $45 million in a Chicago police brutality case. They’re demanding a transparent investigation and may seek monetary damages.
“You don’t treat these people as criminals. You save their life and that was the antithesis of what we saw here, he was immediately treated as a criminal when he was not,” said attorney Antonio Romanucci.
Newly-released video shows Howell walking into the jail. Police say he was later taken to the hospital for narcotics consumption. But attorneys say that doesn’t excuse the actions of the officers.
“Rather than treat him as a health crisis, as a patient, he instead was charged as a criminal,” said Romanucci.
Howell is listed in good condition. Sarasota police are conducting an internal investigation.