Man injured during arrest in Sarasota released from hospital

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A Sarasota man who was hospitalized after being arrested by police has been released from the hospital.

The arrest was caught on camera leading many in the community to call for an investigation into how the situation was handled.

A rally was held for Govinda Howell, whose family is accusing the police of being unnecessarily rough with him during the encounter on Sunday.

Family members say Howell was released from the hospital after recovering from injuries to internal organs in his abdomen.

Meanwhile, protestors marched a half mile, from Fredd Atkins Park to where the arrest happened at Maple and 23rd.

"We have to solve this problem of, just because you get a traffic stop, you get pulled out of a car," said Gilda Williams, Howell's aunt. "It is no sense that you get beaten like that if you don't comply. The officer says that there is a way they have to handle a person, that is understandable. But why so brutally?"

The group called for a fair internal affairs investigation, but they also called for changes to the city's police complaint committee.

They want the committee to have the power to do more than just make recommendations.

"It is basically the police policing itself, and that has to stop," said Ruth Beltran, a protest organizer. "We want to see community oversight of the police department, we want to see an independent body conduct this investigation."

Howell's family says he was the victim of a police force that should have been more aware of what they called his obvious mental difficulties. They have hired a lawyer who is promising to file suit against the department.

His family says he is bipolar, schizophrenic, and not fully able to understand police commands. 

"We are just here for justice," said Gilda Williams, Howell's aunt. "We want it to not just be for Govinda, we want it for everybody. Everybody who has had a problem. We have to come together."070918-28

Police said Howell was in the backseat of a car on Sunday that ran a stop sign and was on the wrong side of the road. They said he was reaching under the seat and did not obey commands to show his hands.

When they pulled him out of the car, they say he tried to hide drugs in his mouth. Toxicology test results are still pending.

The police chief promised a fair and transparent internal affairs investigation.

Howell was charged with resisting arrest without violence. Protestors called for those charges to be dropped.

"We can not expect a person who is mentally disabled to react normally or just as quick or obey commands just as quick as someone who does not have a disability," said Beltran.