CLEARWATER, Fla. — Kenneth Powell III, 16, talked for the first time publicly about a controversial jaywalking stop on Monday involving a Clearwater Police officer. 

Powell says the encounter left him shaken and afraid to leave his own home.

“I’m not trying to say all cops are bad, but it just makes me be more scared,” said Powell. “I don’t even want to go out the house. I can’t even go by myself. My brother just had to walk me to the bus stop to make sure that I was OK.”

Officer's side of the story

According to a newly released police report, the incident occurred near 1504 N. Garden Avenue at 10:05 p.m. on Monday in Clearwater.

Officer Josh Gibson wrote that he saw Powell cross the road about 100 feet south of the intersection and initiated the emergency equipment in his cruiser to stop him. 

Powell said, “What?” and Gibson responded, “Stop. Police.”

Gibson states the teen began walking towards him and he exited the cruiser. Gibson then told Powell that he needed to cross the roadway within the intersection and he responded, “OK.”

The officer then told the teen to step over to his cruiser. Powell asked, “Why?” as he put his hands into his hoodie and began to back away, according to the report.

Gibson told him again to step over to the cruiser and not back away. Powell began to quicken his pace and Gibson reached out, grabbed his arms and told him to stop again.

According to Gibson, the teen braced, tensed and pulled away in an attempt to defeat his grasp. That’s when Gibson said he secured both of Powell’s arms behind his back, redirected him to the side of the cruiser, and requested backup.

"I didn't try to resist"

Gibson said Powell attempted to break free from his grasp twice, told the teen to stop resisting and placed him in handcuffs. Gibson then asked Powell why he was trying to get away and if he had anything on him that he wasn’t supposed to have.

Powell stated, “No, you can check.”

The officer said he searched the teen and didn’t find any contraband. He noted Powell was wearing an apron and green shirt under his hoodie.

Powell, however, said he was wearing a Publix uniform under his hoodie because he was walking home from work. He also told us other sections of the police report are not accurate.

“I didn’t try to resist or anything,” he said. “If he wanted to just talk to me, I already came to his cop car. He didn’t have to grab me and go aggressive and make sure I was detained with handcuffs and all that.”

The teen said he only agreed to be searched because the officers were accusing him of transporting drugs. That. he believes, boils down to police harassment over an alleged jaywalking infraction.

“He checked my eyes to see if I was high,” said Powell. “The officer asked do I ‘smoke anything?’ He’s like, do I ‘smoke any bud?’ I said ‘no, I never smoked that in my life.’”

“Do they think everybody, just because they’re a certain type of skin color, do they have to have drugs on them?” Powell said.


He said towards the end of the police encounter he began to cry, and Officer Gibson used his cell phone to video record him.

“He had a camera like this, pointing (from the waistband area) while tears began to crawl down my eyes,” said Powell.

According to the report, Gibson let the teen off with a warning because he was being “cooperative." The officer also told Powell that if he puts his hands into his pockets and does not comply with law enforcement instructions it was considered resisting without violence.

Gibson then called Powell’s mom and advised her of the stop.

Powell’s dad believes the officer profiled his son. The teen, meanwhile, said he's speaking out in hopes that it doesn't happen to any one else.

“I don’t care what race you are, no child should have to go through that,” he said. “It just made me feel sad inside.”

Even though the police report is considered “closed,” Clearwater Police internal affairs have opened an investigation into the incident.