Two deputies can be suspended and a Florida sheriff has apologized after a visually-impaired man was arrested final month when his strolling cane was mistaken for a gun, officers mentioned.
James Hodges, 61, of Lake Metropolis, was arrested the morning of Oct. 31 for resisting an officer with out violence, in accordance with an arrest report and physique digicam video of his detainment supplied Wednesday to NBC Information by the the Columbia County Sheriff’s Workplace.
In a videotaped assertion from Sheriff Mark Hunter posted to Fb Tuesday, Hunter identifies the arresting deputies as Jayme Gohde and her supervisor, Sgt. Randy Harrison.
The deputies face suspension with out pay and Harrison was demoted after an investigation was launched when Hodges requested physique digicam video of his arrest, Hunter mentioned.
“As sheriff, I take full duty for this occasion and wish to lengthen my honest apologies to Mr. Hodges for the actions of my deputies,” Hunter mentioned. “I don’t really feel these deputies’ actions have been guided by unwell intent, however somewhat by frustration and failure to depend on their coaching. Nonetheless, this conduct is unacceptable.”
Hunter mentioned the investigation confirmed the deputies violated insurance policies. Harrison faces a suspension of seven days with out pay. He is not going to be eligible for any “favorable motion” for 2 years, Hunter mentioned. Gohde faces suspension with out pay for 2 days, Hunter mentioned.
A consultant with the sheriff’s workplace clarified Wednesday Harrison will not be eligible for raises or promotions for 2 years. The consultant mentioned the deputies have been unavailable to talk.
They are going to be required to take remedial coaching pertaining to civil rights, Hunter mentioned.
Hodges was not instantly reached Wednesday. He advised NBC affiliate WTLV of Jacksonville, “Makes my chest swell up, not in a proud means, however in a really appreciative means.”
The arrest report mentioned Gohde stopped Hodges after seeing him enter a cross stroll when a site visitors management system indicated to not stroll. The morning was foggy and overcast and drivers have been utilizing their headlights, the report mentioned. The report mentioned Hodges seemed to be carrying a “silver (chrome) pistol with a white grip in his again proper pocket.”
NBC Information doesn’t know what preceded the video supplied by the sheriff’s workplace or if it was edited. The consultant with the sheriff’s workplace declined Wednesday to supply extra remark in regards to the video.
In response to the four-minute physique digicam video, Gohde walks as much as Hodges and asks what’s in his pocket?
Hodges seems to say it’s a navigating help. He tells Gohde, “What’s the issue? Are you a tyrant,” the video exhibits.
Gohde responds she is, truly, and asks Hodges for his title and date of start, which he refuses to supply, in accordance with the video.
Gohde then seems to say, “Would you like me to place you in handcuffs proper now?”
Hodges asks what’s her suspicion and she or he tells him, it appears to be like like he’s carrying a gun in his again pocket. Hodges, in accordance with the video, takes out the folded up cane, and exhibits it to Gohde.
They each insult one another, and Hodges asks if he’s detained?
Gohde once more asks for his title and date of start, and Hodges declines to offer it to her and asks for her supervisor.
Harrison is on scene, the video exhibits, and Hodges walks as much as him. Harrison explains that the cane might appear to be a weapon and he ought to determine himself when requested, the video exhibits.
Hodges responds, in accordance with the video, he doesn’t have to determine himself until there’s been a “cheap articulated suspicion that I’ve dedicated a criminal offense, am committing a criminal offense or about to do a criminal offense.”
Hodges is positioned in handcuffs and Harrison, in accordance with the video asks him, “Sir, are you legally blind?”
Audio within the video is turned off, however Hodges seems to mouth, “Sure, I’m.” He then mentioned, “I needed to stroll up right here in the dead of night for jury obligation which was cancelled.”
The video then exhibits Gohde ask Hodges if that was laborious and he responds he desires her title and badge quantity.
And Harrison reacts to that remark, in accordance with the video, “You realize what, put him in jail for resisting.”
As Hodges is positioned right into a squad automobile, he yells, “I would like your title and your badge quantity, too, sir.”
Within the apology video, Hunter advised the general public his deputies will proceed to work laborious for his or her belief.
“I wish to reassure you that as your sheriff, we do make errors,” he mentioned. “However we take corrective motion to repair them. That is how we get higher.”