When Giovanni (Govi) Eastwood was saved from the attic of a Kansas home where he’d been abandoned by his mom, officers were shocked at the sight of the rail-thin, six-year-old who weighed just 17 pounds at the time.
Govi, who has Down-syndrome, was later adopted by his great aunt, and this past Saturday he met the cop who rescued him on that day in 2010.
Now a healthy 13-year-old, Govi was made an honorary deputy of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office at a ceremony Saturday and given a police badge with the same number as Sgt. John Klingele, the officer who climbed on a couch to lift the young boy down to safety.
“That was the first time I’d seen him since that night six years ago. He’s a tremendous little boy. He’s had a hard life and done well with it,” Klingele told InsideEdition.com.
Govi’s biological mother, Rachel Perez, is currently serving an eight-year prison term for attempted murder over the treatment of her child.
On the day officers found Govi, they had gone to the house to do a welfare check after Govi’s grandfather called police. They found that Perez had outstanding warrants and arrested her, but Perez said nothing about the boy who had been locked in the attic.
“She concocted some story about where Govi was,” said Klingele. “So they all ended up leaving and Govi was still there.”
Officers, thankfully, ended up getting probable cause to enter the house after a hunch that the then 6-year-old was still was in there by himself, Klingele said.
Klingele was lifted into the house through a window and called out to Govi, but didn’t know where he was. Eventually, he realized Govi’s voice was coming from above him.
“I looked up and was standing right above the access panel to the attic. I was able to open it. I picked him up out the hole and brought him down,” said Klingele. “He looked like a kid out of a concentration camp, skin and bones. We were told he was going to be 7 and size wise he looked 3 maybe.”
Klingele said he thinks that Perez put the boy there to hide him.
"Govi didn’t freak out when we took him out. He just started playing. He didn’t have the muscular support to stand up on his own. He didn’t seem remotely surprised by the situation,” Klingele said.
Stacey Eastwood, Govi’s great aunt who officially adopted him along with his two siblings in 2012, said it’s been a long journey but his life is obviously better than it was.
“He was very bright spirit but he was a broken child. Even like a touch or a hug, he would say ‘ow.’ It was sad,” Eastwood told InsideEdition.com
Slowly Govi came around and began to feel safe with the family.
“The kid is magical. Everybody he comes in contact with, he just brings out a better person in them,” Eastwood said.
The moment where Govi met Klingele was a surreal moment for both of them.
“It was awesome. I don’t really tell him things that are planned because he doesn’t really understand but I explained to him as we were driving there,” said Eastwood. “When I told him the cops wanted to meet him he said, 'I say yes.'"
Govi shook the hands of the officers and thanked Klingele for rescuing him that day.
But, Klingele said they are not the real heroes.
“That boy is the hero. Seeing how big his heart is and his smile is… It’s really good to see him,” Klingele said. “You don’t always get happy ending being a police officer so it was good to see that we played a small part in his journey.”
And, Govi was just as touched. Eastwood went to check on him in his room later that night after the event and there he was in his bed sleeping with his plaque.