The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office in Florida is conducting an internal investigation after a legally blind man was recently arrested.
Body cam footage, which has gone viral, depicts the October 31 arrest of James Hodges, 61. He was apprehended for resisting arrest without violence.
An officer thought that Hodges was holding “what appeared to be a silver (chrome) pistol with a white grip in his back right pocket,” stated arrest documents. The item was eventually found to be a folded-up walking stick.
Hodges had been walking over Marion Ave, close to Duval St. “when the traffic control device indicated not to walk,” a report states.
It read that the deputy had walked up to Hodges to figure out what was inside of his back pocket, but stated that, “he continued to walk away.”
Hodges wouldn’t identify himself or give his date of birth. He also told the officer they were “only allowed to request his identification if he was in the act of committing a crime, about to commit a crime, or had already committed a crime.”
Hodges was then placed in handcuffs. After the deputy performed a pat down, they located his ID inside of his front pocket.
Another officer arrived on the scene and questioned Hodges about whether he was legally blind. He then validated that he was. The second deputy asked Hodges why he wasn’t utilized his walking stick. He responded that he didn’t need to use it during the day. He disclosed to deputies that he had utilized the stick when he traveled to the courthouse for jury duty.
Hodges was placed in the Columbia County Jail, right before 8:30 a.m., on Monday, October 31. He was freed on Tuesday, November 1, around 10:30 a.m.
CCSO Sheriff Mark Hunter stated on a Facebook post that he is “troubled by what he has seen in the video, and the matter is being addressed.”
The sheriff’s office noted that they are aware of the situation that occurred with Mr. Hodges. They added that consequences will be forthcoming if violations of the policies are found.