Back in 2011, a man with Down Syndrome had a run in with police officers in Florida, and the family hired an attorney in what they claimed was a case of bullying and excessive force.
The Liberty Crier reports that according to the family, they were inside their Southwest Miami-Dade when Gilberto Powell called his parents on his cell phone to let them know he was walking a block from his friend’s house.
Two Miami-Dade officers stopped Powell in his Richmond Heights neighborhood while he was walking home, according to the police report, CBS Miami reported.
Officers reportedly stopped Powell because they saw a “bulge in (Powell’s) waist band,” the report said. That’s when police, “decided that a pat-down should be conducted.” Police said that while attempting to pat Powell down, he “pushed off the vehicle and attempted to flee.”
NBC South Florida noted that police said Powell broke free as officers tried to place him in handcuffs, hitting his forehead on the ground. Powell hit one of the officers in the chest and continued to struggle until one of the officers “struck [Powell] in the left side of his face with an open hand in an attempt to subdue him,” the report said.
The incident left Powell with bad bruises and scars on his face.
The officers finally determined the bulge in Powell’s pants was his medical colostomy bag, and Powell’s family says police pulled it from his body.
Powell’s father ran out of the house when he realized what was happening.
“I ran out yelling ‘hey hey what are you doing to him? He’s Down Syndrome! Leave him alone! What are you doing?’” Gilberto Hernandez said. “And when I got over there not one minute later his face was all busted up and he was in handcuffs.”
“This is a case of excessive force and this may be a case of discrimination,” family attorney Philip Gold said.
Gold also claims the officers should have known Powell has special needs immediately.
“I said, ‘Didn’t you know he was a Down Syndrome kid?’ And he said, ‘No, I’m not a doctor. I don’t know.’ And I said, ‘Well, you can see it in his face that he is a Down Syndrome kid,’” Powell’s mother Josephine said.