The city of Opa-Locka is facing a lawsuit that claims two police officers failed to protect a mentally disabled young boy who was allegedly raped by his mother's boyfriend.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Florida Federal Court, claims the two officers had "deliberate and reckless indifference for the safety" of the 11-year-old boy by leaving him with "an enraged and violent adult male."
"I'm very heartbroken," the boy's mother, who is not being identified to protect the boy's identity, said Wednesday. "I mean, my heart is so torn."
According to the lawsuit, the boy's mother had obtained a restraining order last September against her ex-boyfriend, Victor Howard, which required him to leave the Opa-Locka home they shared.
But when two officers showed up at the home, the lawsuit claims they allowed Howard to stay. And when the mother tried to leave with all of the children, the officers wouldn't allow her to take all of them, the lawsuit claims.
Howard, 49, was arrested on sexual battery on a minor charges for the alleged incident last September. He pleaded not guilty and is currently being held without bond in Miami-Dade jail.
Phone calls to his attorney were not returned Wednesday. Opa-Locka Police Department and the city of Opa-Locka also did not return calls seeking comment on the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, the mother was allegedly threatened with arrest if she didn't leave the home. That's when the officers took custody of the boy and left him in the custody of Howard, even though he is not the boy's father, the suit said.
"They forced her to leave, under the threat of going to jail and leave her mentally disabled son with this man, violent man, who is now is a rage, who they just served with a restraining order," said Jeffrey Herman, the mother's attorney.
While the child was in the custody of Howard, the boy was restrained, beaten and brutally raped, the suit claims.
"Instead of making him leave like they were supposed to do, the police allowed this man to stay in the home," Herman said.
The mother said her son is now in therapy and probably will be for the rest of his life. The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount in monetary damages from the city.
"I was calling out his name and the officer told me to stand back and he was losing his patience. That he was going to take me to jail," the boy's mom explained. "I tried. I mean I tried so hard."