Family of man allegedly injured during rough arrest suing Sarasota PD

Image 1 of 4

The family of a man who accuses Sarasota police of manhandling him is promising a lawsuit.

They say video shows police were too rough when they arrested Govinda Howell.

"My job is to see justice for people who do not have a voice in this area," said lawyer Antonio Romanucci.

The department opened its own internal investigation after Govinda Howell's family accused officers of being too rough with him.

The arrest was caught on video and spread by social media.

The video starts after Howell was pulled from the backseat of a car on Sunday after a traffic violation.

Police say he was fumbling under the seat and refused to show his hands.

"He's handicapped," bystanders can be heard saying.

Romanucci says Howell is bipolar, suffers from schizophrenia and has previous brain injuries. Romanucci says police hit Howell in the face, ribs, and stomach.

"If they would have treated him as a mental health patient and used appropriate de-escalation techniques as opposed to force," said Romanucci, "then there would have been compliance."

Romanucci says the department should recuse itself from the internal affairs investigation and bring in FDLE.

Chief Bernadette DiPino issued a statement saying: "I have faith and confidence in our Internal Affairs and Complaints Unit to complete a fair, thorough, impartial and transparent investigation."

Police said Howell was chewing on drugs to hide them and that they were trying to stop him.

"If he is going to ingest, let him ingest and bring him to the hospital and let the doctors do their job," said Romanucci.

WATCH: Video shows chaos during Sarasota traffic stop arrest

After he was booked into jail Sunday night, he was taken to the hospital's intensive care unit.

His lawyer says the police, despite their insistence he was moving his hands under the seat, illegally searched him.

"It's just a buzz phrase, it is used by police departments across the country to justify their actions."

A toxicology test is being done on Howell to determine if he had been using drugs.

"We will be transparent about that," said Romanucci.

Romanucci says he would welcome a meeting with the police chief.

A rally is being held Friday at 7PM Fredd Atkins Park.