MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The sole survivor of a police standoff and fiery inferno at a suspected marijuana grow house two months ago is speaking out exclusively to CBS4 after charges against him are dropped.
“I’m happy to hear this but it still leaves me with a lot of unanswered questions,” said Brian Howell.
“It doesn’t change what happened,” Howell told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench. “It doesn’t bring back the people who were like family to me. I have every question in the book,” he said. I want to know why. I want to know how it all went down and why it all went down the way it did. I think there was too much force used.”
“This has changed my life,” said Howell. “I wake up looking over my shoulder. I lost every really good friend of mine. They were like family. I miss them every day. I think about them every day. Just because the case has gone away does not mean the mind set goes away. It is still there. It is still in the back of my mind every time I turn around. I wake up and it is still there.”
“This has changed my life forever,” he said. “I wake up looking over my shoulder. I lost every really good friend of mine. I feel like I can move on but it still haunts me. It’s not completely gone. It’s still there.”
Miami-Dade Police said the marijuana grow house burst into flames after they raided it on February 19th and after shots were fired by Howell’s roommates:
27-year-old Michael DiGiovanni and his father, 50-year-old Dell DiGiovanni. Police said Michael died in the home and his father later hanged himself nearby from a tree.
Howell was originally charged with one count of possession of a place to manufacture a controlled substance. On Monday, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s
Office announced that charges were being dropped. For now, no reason is being given for that decision.
Howell’s attorney Alex Michaels said, “I feel great about this decision. I think it was overdue. Of course I am happy right now. Of course by the same token, by doing this they avoided providing disclosure on their files. Eventually they cannot hide behind no action. Eventually they are going to have to come forward and explain to the public why they burned down the house and why two people are dead and why they took so much time on this case.”
Miami-Dade Police spokesman Javier Baez told D’Oench that police would not comment about the case. They originally said officers were forced to fire to protect themselves.
Police said they recovered eight marijuana plants.
Howell said he was asleep when police raided the home but he was aware of the marijuana plants in the home.
“I was aware of it,” he said. “But I didn’t think anything this drastic would happen. I didn’t have anything to do with it. I was surprised it even went this far. I guess everyone makes their own decisions on what they do. You never know what’s going to happen.”