James Hodges: Video shows Florida cops arrest blind man, 61, for carrying walking stick in pocket
Police body camera footage obtained by James Hodges, who claims to be legally blind, was posted on his YouTube channel
LAKE CITY, FLORIDA: Florida cops could be in trouble after a viral video showed them detaining a man who claimed to be legally blind for carrying a . Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter acknowledged Monday, Nov 11, that he was "troubled" by the video. Two deputies handcuff James "Jim" Hodges for refusing to identify himself in the video. The video was taken by the person arrested in the incident and uploaded to YouTube. The 61-year-old again claims that he does not have to pay anything to the police because he did not violate any laws.
However, the two deputies disregarded his pleas and arrested Hodges on suspicion of resisting arrest without violence. A $1,000 bond was posted, according to an arrest affidavit. A spokesperson informed The Daily Beast on Monday, Nov 7, that the deputies involved are the subject of an internal investigation after the video went viral.
“Sheriff Hunter is troubled by what he has seen in the video and the matter is being addressed,” the spokesperson said in a statement over the phone. “If policy violations are sustained at the conclusion of that investigation, appropriate action will be taken.”
Deputy Jayme Gohde saw Hodges cross the roadway on Halloween morning despite a crosswalk beacon signaling him to wait, according to an arrest document. Gohde told Hodges she pulled him over because she believed he had a firearm in his back pocket. The animosity between Gohde and Hodges is evident early in their conversation. When the deputy asked Hodges what was in his back pocket, the 61-year-old responded in strong terms, claiming it was his walking stick. “It’s a navigational aid, what’s the problem, are you a tyrant?” Hodges says. “Yeah, I am, actually,” Gohde responds. “What’s your name and date of birth?”
In the ensuing confrontation, Gohde threatens to handcuff Hodges if he doesn't identify himself, while Hodges insists that he doesn't have to because he hasn't broken any law. In the rear view of the body camera, Hodges can clearly be seen carrying a silver, folding walking stick. Gohde, however, insists that Hodges introduce himself because he's under investigation for allegedly carrying a weapon. He pulls out the cane and holds it in front of him in response to the deputies' claim that she still doesn't know what he's carrying. “You don’t have to be a dick to me,” Gohde says to Hodges. “Well you’re being one to me,” he shoots back.
When Hodges asks if he is being detained, Gohde responds, "Yes, you are." When Hodges asks to speak with her boss, Gohde happily responds, "He's right here. Around the minute mark of the video, Hodges approaches a second deputy—who was not identified in the arrest affidavit—and briefly describes what transpired. He needs to identify himself, the second deputy warns because the walking stick "could look like a weapon." “Do you have an ID?” the cop yells. Hodges replies, “I do have an ID but you don’t need it.” When Hodges continues to object, both police make an effort to handcuff him. Although he doesn't seem to physically object, he keeps saying that the deputies have "no right to search" him while they examine his pockets.
Hodges then asks for the deputies' names, badge numbers, and cards. The second deputy asks Hodges if he is legally blind while he is handcuffed. The 61-year-old responds that he is blind and therefore always carries a cane, although he does not always need it. According to Hodges, who claims his jury duty had just been canceled, he used the cane to help him navigate the pitch-black streets of Lake City, Florida, which is about 45 miles north of Gainesville. Officers appear to be conducting a brief background investigation on Hodges. “Alright, Mr Hodges, was that that hard?” Gohde is captured saying. “It’s gonna be,” he responds. “I want your name and badge number.”
The unnamed deputy appears to be moved by Hodges' objection, for he instructs Gohde to take Hodges into custody for allegedly resisting arrest. The man is then escorted to Gohde's cruiser and placed in the back seat.
An attempt to reach Gohde at the phone number listed under her name was unsuccessful. She is 28 years old and resides in Lake City, according to public records. According to Sgt. Steven Khachigan, officials will post the results of their investigation and possible sanctions on their Facebook page. He did not provide details on how long the investigation is expected to take. According to a jail log, Hodges was held for 26 hours before being released on his own recognizance.