CLEARWATER, Fla. — Clearwater Police stopped a 16-year-old pedestrian because he didn’t look both ways before walking across a street on Monday, then accused the teen of transporting drugs, according to the boy’s dad, Kenneth Powell.

  • Clearwater Police confirmed internal investigation under way
  • Officer reportedly called for backup during encounter, 6 officers responded
  • Father filed complaint with police Tuesday
  • More Pinellas County stories

“Somehow that escalated to him being handcuffed and he said they threw him up against the police car,” said Powell, 37. “They said all kinds of derogatory terms to him, as-far-as, ‘we know you guys (are) transporting the drugs like this' and 'where are you hiding the drugs?’”

Powell said his son was walking in the crosswalk at N. Garden Avenue and Marshall Street at about 10:30 p.m. The teen had just finished a shift at Publix and was wearing a hoodie over his uniform. 

“If it was a jay-walk stop, I don’t mind,” said Powell. “No person should be traumatized from an encounter with the police.”

Powell said the initial officer called for backup and six other officers arrived on the scene. The officers then searched the teen for drugs, even searching his shoes, according to Powell.

They did not, however, issue the teen a ticket for jaywalking.

Probable cause?

Powell called the incident “profiling” and wants to know what probable cause the officer had to search his son for drugs.

“Why is this kid’s first encounter with the police, a subject of drugs (is) being brought up and he’s being searched for drugs? What on this kid says 'drugs'?” he asked. “That’s a total profiling situation to me.”

The teen’s mom, Erica Powell, said police let her son call her after the incident was basically over. She said her son was in tears and the mom is also upset with how CPD handled the situation.

Clearwater Police spokesman Rob Shaw said he can’t talk much about the case because it’s under investigation. Shaw released a statement:

“We are aware of the pedestrian stop initiated by one of our officers Monday night, and we are looking into the circumstances of that stop.” 

Next steps?

Powell said he filed a complaint with the agency on Tuesday. Shaw said CPD had already launched an internal affairs investigation based on social media posts.

Powell said he’s not looking to get a police officer fired. Instead, he wants more training to be done.

“If they could just get retrained,” he said. “I’ll be satisfied with the meeting with these officers and my son, so they can see how they affected him.”

Powell said his son no longer wants to go outside and has been traumatized.