Police Scuffle With Special Needs Man

Family Hires Attorney After They Say Officers Battered Man With Down Syndrome

RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Fla. - Family members of a special needs man who was battered and bruised while in Miami-Dade police custody are speaking out, calling the incident a case of "excessive force."

On Saturday night, two Miami-Dade officers stopped Gilberto "Lico" Powell, 22, in his Richmond Heights neighborhood while he was walking home from a friend's house around 9 p.m.

According to the police incident report, the patrol officers wanted to talk to him after they "observed a bulge in (Powell's) waist band."

"I never thought that something like this would happen to him. They have hurt my son real bad," Gilberto Hernandez, told Local 10's Baron James.

"He hurt me," said Powell, who has Down syndrome. "I was scared."

Powell was in front of his house when he was handcuffed and stripped down to his underwear. He was on the ground in the middle of the street when, according to his family, he was body slammed by police.

The two officers wrote in their incident report that "while attempting to pat him down" Powell tried to run away four times.

After police gave "multiple commands to stop moving in attempt to handcuff him," he "fell on the ground and struck his forehead," officers wrote in the incident report.

Still ignoring their loud verbal commands "to stop resisting and obey," police say the 5 foot 3-inch tall, 130 pound man struck one of the officers in the chest. That officer then "slapped" Powell and subdued him.

"He hit me hard," Powell said.

The officers finally determined the bulge in Powell's pants was his medical colostomy bag, which somehow became detached from his body.

The Hernandez-Powell family has hired an attorney.

"This male officer went from zero to brutality, nothing in between," said attorney Philip Gold.

"I just don't want this to happen to anybody else," Gilberto Hernandez added.

The officers reported that Powell was "not capable of understanding their commands," and he was not arrested. They did, however, take him to Jackson Memorial South Hospital after the incident.

The police department released this statement:

"The Miami-Dade Police Department continues to investigate the incident involving Mr. Gilberto Powell. The integrity of the investigation and successful resolution of this case continues to remain our highest priority. As a result, the investigation remains active and ongoing; therefore, we cannot provide additional information at this time."

Meanwhile, the two officers involved - one male and one female - remain on active duty.

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