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[ED: See our original post including bodycam video of this incident here.]

A Florida sheriff apologized this week after a legally blind man was arrested when deputies mistook his walking cane for a gun.

Deputy Jayme Gohde and her supervisor [Sgt. Randy Harrison] were suspended after arresting James Hodges, of Lake City on Oct. 31 for resisting an officer without violence, according to Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter.

“As sheriff, I take full responsibility for this event and want to extend my sincere apologies to Mr. Hodges for the actions of my deputies,” Hunter said Tuesday.

“I do not feel these deputies’ actions were guided by ill intent, but rather by frustration and failure to rely on their training. Nevertheless, this conduct is unacceptable.” …

Sheriff Hunter said the two deputies violated department policies and would undergo training after their suspensions. Charges against Hodges were dropped.

He made a formal complaint and told First Coast News he plans to file a lawsuit against the sheriff’s office.

— David Matthews, New York Daily News in Florida Sheriff Apologizes after Deputies Mistake Cane for Gun, Arrest Legally Blind Man

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80 COMMENTS

  1. Took too long to apologize. But even though an apology is ‘nice’ in the optics sense an apology does not undo the harm done to the absolute infringement upon his freedom nor the harm done by raising his fear level nor to his constitutional right against unreasonable seizure and a whole lot more.

      • No, kudos would be if they fired the badged miscreants (they should probably be charged too but that’s not directly the sheriff’s call). These just got the usual paid vacation and more taxpayer-funded training for them to ignore.

        • I would venture a guess that union rules prevent the sheriff from firing these two individuals. It amazing the rules that are in place reading public employees and their work. In our county a worker was fired for repeatedly sleeping while at her desk. She was reinstated by the civil service review board because according to the review board she had not adequately been instructed that she was not to sleep at her desk. Firing a school teacher or l.e.o. is as difficult as flying to the moon unaided by rocket propulsion. I forget how many NYC school teachers get paid to sit in a room and do nothing but work crossword puzzles or watch their favorite soap or whatever floats their boat during forced idleness. They can be required to attend but they are forbidden to work, so they just pass their time pasing time.

          The city manager of this city just got fired and got $150,000 settlement without even having to file a law suit. He seriously abused his “expense account” and failed to guide the rest of the employees in the performance of their duties even though he was getting a quarter mill a year plus “expenses” to do so.

          Actually I consider that a cheap buy-out. Our incompetent city attorney farms out litigation to outside firms. I don’t know why we have him on staff. He’s too “overworked” to defend the city in litigation. I am not sure what he does. The city doesn’t pass that many ordinances these days, reviewing them shouldn’t take more than an hour a week for any competent attorney. The city used to retain an independent lawyer who specialized in municipal law for a yearly retainer, a lot less than what they pay the city attorney. The outside guy wasn’t an employee, so he didn’t qualify for city retirement, sick leave, med insurance or any of the other enormous bennies that employees get. He was replace by a full time city attorney and a full time assistant city attorney.

          So, I wouldn’t immediately jump on the sheriff for failing to dump the cops involved in this fiasco. His hands may well be tied with regard to what he can and cannot do with errant employees.

        • It makes sense for workers to be able to organize in opposition to a large, well-organized private interest.

          To organize in opposition to the public interest, OTOH, is called “treason”.

        • You guys are right on, public unions are inevitably a pox without massive restrictions. They shouldn’t have the power to do any more than negotiate salaries.

      • No. He didn’t do the “right thing”, he sat on this and then did the bare minimum so he could claim he had solved the problem. At the very least the Sergeant should have been fired!

        “You’re letting him go with a warning after he did nothing wrong? Screw that, arrest him! We’ll figure out a reason later” Is a horrifying attitude for a cop to have, especially one in a position of leadership over less experienced officers

        • Even worse, it was retaliation on a citizen for exercising their right to not share information with the police. He was arrested solely for not licking the boot.

  2. Well that’s a good start. But I do like Tim Pools idea even better. Renting a bill board with the message, to not serve these anti-civil rights cops, in any restaurant or any other private business. The 1st amendment in action.

    • OK as long as it’s limited to cops with a demonstrated history of civil rights abuses. It would come down to, “You’re welcome here but your a-hole partner isn’t.” You would still have to separate legitimate complaints from, “The pigs shouldn’t have busted my cousin because he blew 0.20 on the Breathalyzer.”

      • People forget that it was a $25,000 ad placed in The New York Times and the Washington Post Opinion sections. Accusing then president Clinton of sexual harassment as the governor of the state of Arkansas. That $25,000 advertisement got the entire Clinton scandal to the front pages of all the papers. When up until then the news media was ignoring the story.

        Tim pool has already spent well over $20,000 to post a Billboard in Tmes Square New York. Stating that Washington Post writer Taylor Lorenz is not telling the truth.

        Exercising your 1st amendment rights can be expensive $$$. However like minded people coming together for a common cause, with a common belief system, can make things happen. And make the overall costs individually much less.

      • NO. The problem is, this department has failed to fire AND PROSECUTE the pigs directly involved.

        Their badges are dishonored. The entire department from the chief on down.

        Boycott the fuckers. ALL of them until they feel the pain caused by their actions. And that boycott needs to extend, in particular, to local ambulance companies and hospitals.

  3. This whole thing reminds me of Will Smith not shooting because he understands that the monster isn’t snarling, it’s sneezing. No real threat there.

  4. Floriduh man in action on both sides. The deputies asked a reasonable question to which Hodges took unreasonable offense. Once it was established that the suspicious object wasn’t a firearm carried illegally, the butt hurt deputies escalated the incident for no good reason.

    • Thinking a walking stick/cane sticking out of his back pocket was a firearm was not, under any circumstances, “reasonable.”

      • ^ This ^

        At best, the deputies may have briefly glimpsed the bright colored object in the man’s back pocket from a distance and thought that it might have been a stainless steel handgun. At that point, the deputies would have been totally in the clear if they closed distance on the man to observe him up close and discern whether or not he indeed had a firearm in his back pocket.

        And that follow-up action did not require engaging, stopping, detaining, nor arresting the man. All the deputies had to do was get behind the man and observe the object at a much closer distance without imposing on the man in any way, shape, nor form.

        Caveat: Florida’s law which criminalizes open carry is unconstitutional and should be struck down–eliminating any concern about what the man had in his pocket and therefore any righteous justification to engage, stop, detain, or arrest the man. Nevertheless, even within the context of Florida’s law which ciminalizes open carry, the deputies’ actions are still improper/illegal for the reasons which I listed above.

        • “Caveat: Florida’s law which criminalizes open carry is unconstitutional and should be struck down–…”

          While I agree, legally (and that’s what’s important), it’s debatable.

          Florida allows carry. We were among the first (in modern times) to somewhat recognize “the right to keep and bear arms…”.

          The Constitution says *nothing* about the mode of carry. I have entertained a little fantasy about California being told they had to allow carry (like, *now*, thanks ‘Bruen’!) and huge arguments breaking out in Cali about being forced to choose the mode. I envisioned typical California arguments like – do the public “have a right to know” (open carry) that someone ‘has an evil gun’, or “out of sight, out of mind”, head stuck in the sand.

          Sadly, that circus hasn’t started. I really hoped in California “the public has a right to know” would have won that argument… *sobbing uncontrollably* 😉

        • Verbally asking him what was in his pocket would still have been fine.

          The problem began once they knew for a certainty that that was a folding blind man’s walking stick. At that point they lost all probable cause, reasonable suspicion or anything similar.

          But they decided they wanted that ID for their own ego.

          I hope the entire town boycotts that department until the pigs directly involved are fired and criminally prosecuted. Until then all of their badges are dishonored.

      • Good to see someone’s still awake.

        Let’see here:

        1) Deprivation of rights under color of law.
        2) Kidnapping.
        3) Filing false charges
        4) Falsifying a government document.

        These shitheads should by all rights be standing tall in front of the man for this bevy of felonies. And yet, nope, nothing. Swept under the rug yet again. This is Unqualified Immunity.

        How long exactly are We The People going to take the high hard one from these petty tyrants with nary but a docile whimper of protest? Become ungovernable.

  5. After a recent encounter with a local lady-cop, I’m quite convinced that they just like to prove the size of their dicks from time to time.

    • Years ago, I was leaving a study group in college and a young woman was driving me home. Neither of us had had a drop to drink, but it was after midnight and it had been drizzling. She turned right and when she did, the car skidded a bit on the wet pavement. She got pulled over by a female cop who immediately accused her of drinking. Didn’t even ask for her license; just, “How much have you had to drink tonight?!?!” She got her out of the car and was doing roadside sobriety tests. I had my window down and was listening. Though the girl was passing the tests with flying colors, the female cop got madder and madder. Screaming at her. “You’ve been drinking!”. This fellow student of mine was in law school and the cop crossed the line when she said, “You’re drunk.” The girl said, “That is a conclusion for a judge or jury to make; not you. I told you I was at a study group and not drinking.” That shut the female officer up right away and she called for a supervisor. The sarge showed up and talked to my driver for half a minute and he simply said, “You’re free to go.”

  6. The arresting officers were not only color blind, but stupid as well. Of course all criminals use white AR-497vx’s with the shoulder thingy that goes up, disguised as walking canes for visually impaired and blind people. If he had a service dog they most likely would have shot it also. Fire their butts and make sure they never work in law enforcement again.

  7. John Boch thinks the two deputies are heroes and the blind guy should be executed for refusing to kiss their power tripping asses.

  8. “I do not feel these deputies’ actions were guided by ill intent…”

    Let’s see; if I remember the exchange accurately:

    “Are you a tyrant?” “Yes, I am, actually.”

    • I don’t see this as a sincere apology and the deputies are certainly guilty of making something out of nothing. Why? you ask, because they could. Right and wrong had noting to do with it. It should have been evident the man was blind and once the object was identified as a cane the deputies should have apologized/thanked the man for his time and moved on.

    • “Let’s see; if I remember the exchange accurately:

      “Are you a tyrant?” “Yes, I am, actually.” ”

      That needs to cost that department some hard cash. From what I’ve seen on other cop-citizen civil rights violations, around $50,000 is a ballpark number.

      In this case, the ‘tyrant’ crack should cost them $100,000, it should play very nicely in front of a jury, and I bet that department wants very badly for that video *not* to be seen by a jury.

      That guy has a nice payout coming his way, if his lawyer is smart… 🙂

      • If the cops had to pay or the department got its yearly play money docked by the award, I would totally agree. However, that is only in my wildest Walter Mitty day dreams. (Look it up it’s an old, old movie). In real life it is the taxpayers of the town who will pick up the tab and in real life they have damned little say in how much training the officers get, what kind or what idiots get hired. They just get to pick up the tab after the damage is done. We need to change the qualified immunity ruling of the federale supremes so that the individual cops get to pick up at least part of the tab which includes attorney fees.

  9. Just so everyone knows, Mr. James Hodges was returning from a Jury Duty notice when the deputies stopped him.

    Hassling a blind man who just fulfilled his civic responsibilities is not a good look for Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter and his deputies. This event should make an excellent commercial during the next election cycle.

    • “Hassling a blind man who just fulfilled his civic responsibilities is not a good look for Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter and his deputies.”

      That department’s risk assessment people are likely advising the sheriff they really don’t want that going to trial. All the better for Mr. Hodges’ bank account…

  10. Never made it as a wise man
    I couldn’t cut as a poor man stealing
    Tired of living like a blind man
    I’m sick of sight without a sense of feeling
    And this is how you remind me.

  11. “I do not feel these deputies’ actions were guided by ill intent, but rather by the belief that a mediocrity graduating from a trade school nobody fails, then being hired by a minor municipal bureaucracy, entitles her to the status, obedience, and homage of a feudal lord.

    FIFY

      • [Minor] hyperbole aside, the point still holds. There are certain qualities of excellence, character, and achievement required to be a big boss and order people around, and:
        None are required to get into a police academy,
        None are required to graduate from a police academy, and
        None are evident in entry-level nobody Jayme Gohde.

        Much more importantly, we have a system where nobody, no matter how brilliant or heroic or accomplished, gets to tell any law-abiding citizen what to do, except for those who voluntarily accepted their authority by taking an oath of enlistment.

        • As a matter of fact, Willie Williams, former head of Philadelphia, PA police department and LA, CA’s effort to hire a minority chief of police was unable to carry a weapon outside LA police headquarters because he couldn’t pass the basic police officer exam required in CA for a cop to carry a firearm in public. For once gun control laws worked. He didn’t last long.

  12. Surprised they were suspended honestly and that he apologized.

    That dude still gonna get paid. The most disturbing part of this is they decided to arrest him after he asked for their badge numbers and names. It was clearly retaliation.

  13. While I support law enforcement and come from a family of 8 police officers, I have no tolerance for people wearing the uniform who swear an oath to the Constitution and violate that office solely for the power it gives them from carrying a badge. You can’t teach people common sense and too many of these folks have little to no decision-making capability. I have seen any number of videos where law enforcement either doesn’t know the law, ignores the law, or just does something stupid because they are on a power trip. Ongoing training is essential and good leadership from the top down is essential. When the person at the top is incompetent then their officers are generally that way as well. Good leadrship and training are essential for quality law enforcement. That’s why the FBI, DOJ, ATF, HS, and IRS are corrupt, because the leadership is corrupt.

    • You mean all of them? How does “settle it in court” sit with you, when they are the brown shirts enforcing unconstitutional laws and edicts daily? “Only following orders” has never gone down well in a defense. There is always a choice, as there was in this instance.

      Even IF he was breaking the law and his cane was a gun, why try to ruin someone’s life that was clearly doing no harm to anyone else? I think we have to ask ourselves, if police have zero duty to protect individual citizens, why then do they arbitrarily choose to harass people that are not bothering others? Especially when it’s those of us who have something to lose. Those guys shooting up on the street corner and pissing on that shops front door are ok, but a guy with MAYBE a gun he MAYBE legally owns walking down the street needs their intervention?

    • Especially when a CITY COP moves to a small town cop!!!

      I was actually pulled over by a female cop, who came from Eugene many moons ago, the reason cause I had a rifle in a gun rack in my truck..

      She tried to state that it was illegal to display the gun, when in fact in Oregon it is legal as long as you have a hunting license!!!!

      Which is what I told her, surprising she let me go!!!

      Then heard in the next few days, she had done the same to other “HUNTERS”!!! They never bothered to tell her that portion of OREGON LAW!!! She did only give warnings to them!!!

      Same happen in my town, when a Police Detective stopped here on the way from LA to Washington state and saw a rifle in a gun rack, in a truck, at the local post office…

      He wrote into our largest local county paper, decrying the inaction of local police for not coming to seize the gun and arrest the criminal…

      He admitted that the local dispatch told him the gun more than likely belonged to a Hunter..

      Then he complained when he stated, he asked if he could break the window and cease the illegal gun..

      And in response to him asking about breaking the window, dispatch told him he would be arrested for breaking and entering, damages and theft, if he did it and he had the galls to complain about the threat to arrest him..

  14. Homeowner Who Fatally Shot Intruder Won’t Face Charges > https://concealednation.org/2022/12/homeowner-who-fatally-shot-intruder-wont-face-charges/

    Firearm Sales Skyrocket As Oregonians Wrestle With Ludicrous Gun Law > https://concealednation.org/2022/12/firearm-sales-skyrocket-as-oregonians-wrestle-with-ludicrous-gun-law/ (note: the Measure 114 Gun Control Law has been blocked from enforcement by the courts at least in a temporary sense > https://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/oregon-supreme-court-wont-overrule-lower-court-that-blocked-enforcement-of-measure-114-gun-control-law/

    SUPREME COURT ON THE MOVE: Left-Wingers Freaking Out About MOORE Case & What It Means For 2A

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCejo-vbDys

    CA Duncan v. Bonta MAG Case: California Seeks to DESTROY SCOTUS’s clear “common use” 2A protections (California PLAYING GAMES with the proper legal standard applicable to the Magazine Ban case in Duncan v. Bonta. The anti-gunners and California are trying to redefine what “commonly possessed” means to mean that the 2A plaintiffs must prove that people “commonly” fire more than 10 rounds in self defense…. of course, this is NOT the proper test. 2A plaintiffs just need to show (it is obvious) that Americans own and possess these magazines in numbers over 200,000 and then the 2A plaintiffs win.)

      • We’re well-over 200,000 already for the full-auto registry.

        We’re well-positioned to get the MG registry re-opened thanks to ‘Bruen’. LKB agreed a few days ago here in TTAG.

        Had some interesting news drop this weekend in my little crap county. It seems that one of those Chicago ‘Glock Switches’ turned up in a traffic stop. They are spreading. That’s more good news for us in getting the MG registry re-opened… 🙂

      • Its not that 200K is a magic number.

        In the case anti-gun and California is trying to redefine what ‘common use’ is. Their comparison for their attempted re-definition is that previously 200K stun guns in a case was called being in ‘common use’ not because it was a limit but because that how many in the state were determined to be in circulation. Basically it was said since there were 200K stun guns it showed they were in common use. California and anti-gun is trying to seize upon that and twist it as being a limit set to determine when arms are in common use to redefine what ‘common use’ means.

        Mark in the video synopsis I posted is simply saying that even if that were the standard for ‘common use’, which is isn’t, that all that would be needed for a win is to show at least 200K high capacity (e.g. 30 round) magazines in existence (sold and/or) held by gun owners which is a very easy number burden to meet.

        • I did’nt say it well enough… but here’s something else…

          CALIFORNIA CAUGHT! 700,000 Machine Guns Claim Exposed in Duncan v. Bonta Case…

  15. “I do not feel these deputies’ actions were guided by ill intent” forget the idiotic but that followed that statement. You only have to listen to the words spoken by those two to know they were pissed the old guy didn’t bow to the entitled cop. They need to be on the lookout for a nice mall cop position that doesn’t allow them to carry a gun. If that idiot sheriff leaves them on they payroll they will eventually cost his department some serious money.

    • “If that idiot sheriff leaves them on they payroll they will eventually cost his department some serious money.”

      That’s already gonna happen thanks to that “I am a tyrant” crack by ‘Officer Friendly’…

  16. i do hope that Sherriff Hunter realizes that if he “retrains” these two idiots and returns them to duty, he will be making his responsibility more severe the next time they cause a disaster.
    And i do hope that Sgt. Harrison ‘s wife understands that the reason their house, savings, and future retirement are about to be destroyed is that her husband refused to properly discipline and control his female subordinate.

  17. ASERGEAN, and an experienced Officer I would suspect, arrests a man with a WHITE STICK believing it tobe a firearm Un-BLOODY -Believable.

  18. For me personally, the Sgt would have been fired and then I would have 6moved to de-certify. He’s been a cop long enough to know. He knew better but let his ego and authority guide him.
    I would have fired him and the young cop would get a LOT of training as would the rest of the dept.

    As soon as it was obvious the old guy had no firearm, the cops had nothing. They should have turned tail and left until letting their badge and authority cloud their judgement.

  19. If he’d been a black man, he’d have been shot dead, and then y’all would’ve been saying, “He should’ve just complied with police. If only he’d complied with police orders, they wouldn’t have shot him dead.”
    Because I’ve seen those statements here on TTAG dozens of times.

    I’m not saying the cops didn’t do the wrong thing in this case of the blind man. Cops arrested him merely for stating his rights as an American citizen, and that was a nasty, vindictive, unconstitutional thing for them to do.
    I’m just sayin’ how surprised I am that y’all sing such a radically different tune (a liberal tune) when the victim of police misconduct is an unarmed white man who only suffered a minor inconvenience for talking back to police, compared to the tune y’all sing when it’s an unarmed black man shot dead by police for talking back to police…
    I’m just sayin’.

  20. As I haven’t seen a folded up cane that looks like anything other than a folded up cane, I’d say the level of stupid is high in the two Occifers.

  21. To me the reaction by law enforcement is “so I made a mistake but now you are talking back to me so we’re going to abuse our authority.”

    The video was clear they should have dropped the matter and thanked the man for his attention to them and apologize to him for them delaying him.

    unfortunately, they did nothing of the sort.

  22. I have to walk with a cane due to really bad knees. I would hate to get stopped here in Kallyfornikadia and be accused of carrying an assault rifle. It is black and has a foam bicycle grip on the handle and it is metal — hevin forbid. I might even be rude to the cop making the accusation.

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