Two Florida police officers are under investigation after footage emerged of them arresting a legally blind man who was holding a navigation stick they briefly thought was a weapon. Bodycam footage from District of Columbia Sheriff Jayme Gohde (pictured top right) on October 31 shows her and Sergeant arresting 61-year-old James Hodges (pictured left) for ‘resisting arrest without violence ‘ after he refused to give them his identification.
Police stopped Hodges because they thought the white cane folded and stuffed in his back pocket could be a gun. Although he immediately let the officers know that it was not a weapon, they insisted that he give them his identification. Claiming he had committed no crime and did not need to comply, Hodges refused to provide his identification, at which point officers handcuffed him and decided to arrest him. Pictured: James Hodges.
Hodges spent 26 hours in prison before being released, then released his own bodycam footage on YouTube. District of Columbia Police Chief Mark Hunter told the Daily Beast he was ‘troubled’ with the incident and confirmed an investigation was underway. In the photo: Deputy Chief of Police Jayme Lee Gohde.
Hodges’ arrest affidavit said the scuffle began after Gohde saw him cross the street even though the lights showed a no-walk signal. In the video, she can be heard telling Hodges that she stopped him because she thought he had a weapon in his back pocket.
He immediately told her it was a ‘navigation aid’, then voiced his disappointment when he stopped. ‘What’s the matter, are you a tyrant?’ he say. Gohde said, “That’s right. ‘What is your name and date of birth?’
Hodges then refused to give his information, telling her that he didn’t need to give her anything because he hadn’t committed a crime. She claimed to be investigating him on suspicion of illegally carrying a weapon, at which point she added ‘now do you want me to put my hands in the handcuffs?’
Hodges then held up his stick for her to see when she said ‘you don’t have to be one [expletive] with me.’ “Well, you’re one for me,” he replied, before asking if he was in custody. Gohde says he is, and after insisting she has no right to arrest him, he asks to speak to her supervisor. “He’s right here,” she said, when the second officer arrived on the scene.
Hodges explained the incident to the officer, who then also asked him if he had an ID. “I have an ID but you don’t need it,” he said. The police then suddenly put Hodges in handcuffs while he asked for their names and badge numbers.
The officer then asked Hodges if he was legally blind, to which Hodges replied that he was and that he used the cane to help him navigate the darkness to jury duty. group that morning.
Hodges stood silent with the officer for a moment while Gohde appeared to do some paperwork. Finally, she said ‘Okay, Mr. Hodges, is that hard?’ Hodges replied, ‘It will be. I want your name and badge number. ‘
At that point the officer seemed to lose his temper, saying ‘You know what? Jailed for resisting’ while shrugging. The District of Columbia Sheriff’s Office released a statement on its Facebook page saying it was conducting an internal investigation. “We are aware of the body camera video of the District of Columbia Sheriff’s Office in connection with the arrest of Mr. James Hodges on October 31, 2022,” it began.
The statement added: ‘Sheriff Hunter is troubled by what he saw in the video and the matter is being worked out. An administrative investigation was initiated on 3 November 2022 when the incident came to our attention. If policy violations persist after the conclusion of such investigation, appropriate action will be taken. While we understand the frustration and anxiety associated with this event, please note that we are working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible. ‘
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