Family of Govinda Howell calling for a transparent Sarasota Police investigation
SARASOTA- The family of 40-year-old Govinda Howell is calling for a transparent investigation of Sarasota Police after videos of his arrest went viral. Howell is currently recovering at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.
Sarasota Police say just before 8 PM Saturday, 40-year-old Govinda Howell was arrested following a traffic stop. Police say Howell was in the rear seat of the stopped vehicle when he began to make what officers described as furtive movements and ignore officer commands. Police say when he came out of the vehicle they observed him actively trying to ingest and destroy narcotics, and officers tried to stop him.
“Make no mistake that furtive movements is nothing but a buzzword for justifying an unreasonable search,” Attorney Antonio Romanucci said. “And that’s exactly what happened.”
Attorney Antonio Romanucci says Howell has diagnoses mental health issues, and even if he was trying to ingest drugs, this shouldn’t be standard protocol.
“The appropriate action,” Romanucci said. “Is not to kill him, or nearly kill him, but if he’s going to ingest let him ingest and bring him to the hospital and let the doctors do their job.”
Romanucci says they do not have evidence that he ingested anything at this time because they have been unable to see him in the hospital.
“We’re going to do our investigation on it,” Romanucci said. “And we’re going to be just as transparent as we expect the police to be, if there is a history of drug use we’ll reveal that.”
In the viral video, Howell is seen being able to walk to police car, and jail intake video shows him walking into the jail, and police getting medical assistance when needed.
The family says the incident shows the need for police reforms of excessive force issues and the handling of people with mental health concerns.
“It’s time that we speak up with one voice as a community,” Gilda Williams said. “To put a stop to the madness.”
“Mental health training by police officers of those who are ill need to be recognized,” Alexis Williams said. “And people should not be treated as criminals when they require medical attention.”
According to Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Howell is currently in good condition. Romanucci says they have yet to file any lawsuits and are currently asking for an investigation.
“We are asking,” Romanucci said. “And maybe Sarasota should recuse themselves in this one and bring in the FDLE to investigate, I think that would be appropriate in this circumstance.”
Sarasota Police says a formal and active internal affairs investigation started after concerns were raised by our community.
Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette Di Pino said "I have all faith and confidence in our internal Affairs and complaints unit to complete a fair, thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into this incident."