Sarasota officers cleared of wrongdoing for arrest that left man hospitalized

Image 1 of 3

Sarasota police say officers accused of using excessive force during an arrest did nothing wrong during the February incident, which was caught on camera.

The family of the man who was arrested says he is disabled and didn't understand police commands.

The six officers involved in that arrest have now been cleared of any wrongdoing.

"Like even right now I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about it," said Delexis Williams, the cousin of 40-year-old Govinda Howell.

Williams says there's more to what happened than meets the eye.

"Just imagine, like, people with autism or people with mental illnesses, that can't really fend for themselves," she explained.

Williams says her cousin has schizophrenia and is bipolar, and witnesses at the scene repeatedly warned the officers that he was handicapped.

"They need to be held accountable, that's my biggest thing, accountability," Williams said.

She is not satisfied with the results of the agency's internal investigation of the traffic stop that landed her cousin in the intensive care unit.  Howell's family wants a third party, like the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, to take a closer look at the incident before it's closed for good.

"How can the police - police themselves?" Williams asked.

According to Sarasota police, Howell was a passenger in a car that was traveling on the wrong side of the road. When they stopped the car, officers said Howell appeared to be reaching for something under the seat. He failed to respond to verbal commands and was seen putting something in his mouth that appeared to be drugs, police said.

A bystander's cell phone video captured the chaos as it unfolded, and raised questions Howell's family says still haven't been answered.

"He doesn't understand, ‘You're being detained,'" Williams explained.

Howell's attorney previously said he was hit in the face, ribs, and stomach. His family says they will be filing a lawsuit against the Sarasota Police Department.