Cop Beats Up Man With Down Syndrome

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Apr 25, 2002
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Special needs man talks about alleged police attack

SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, Fla. (WSVN) -- A man with special needs is speaking out after he was left badly bruised by police.

Twenty-two-year-old Gilberto Powell, who has Down Syndrome, is left with horrible bruises and scars on his face after he had an encounter with police outside his home. "That's my son. That's my baby. I really love this little boy. He's my love," said Powell's mother, Josephine.

According to the family, they were inside their Southwest Miami-Dade home last Saturday when Powell, who is also called Liko, called his parents on his cell phone to let them know he was walking a block from his friend's house. On his way home, Liko said, "The police followed me."

Liko said, the officer smacked him in the face with an open hand and knocked him to the ground. "His whole hand," he said.

According to the police report, a Miami-Dade Police officer noticed a bulge in Liko's waistband. The officer attempted to conduct a pat down, and Powell tried to run away. "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,'" said Josephine.

The bulge that Liko had on his waistband was a colostomy bag. The family said the officer pulled it from his body. "He had him by his boxers, so they took his pants off," said Liko's father, Gilberto Hernandez. "I felt helpless, because he was calling my name."

Liko was not arrested. He said he never ran away from the officer and did everything the officer told him to do.

Miami-Dade Police Department released the following statement regarding the incident: "The integrity of the investigation and successful resolution of this case continues to remain our highest priority."

The family's attorney, Philip Gold, said the family wants an apology from police. "They want an apology. They want the community to know that bad things can happen," said Gold.

The family will meet with officials on Thursday.