A pair of Florida sheriff’s deputies are being investigated for arresting a legally blind man after mistaking the folded cane in his back pocket for a firearm.
James Hodges, 61, was detained by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office deputies on Oct. 31 as he walked on a sidewalk on his way home from the courthouse, First Coast News reported.
“Hi there. What’s this in your back pocket? I just saw you walking,” a female deputy says in the bodycam footage.
“It’s a navigational aid. What’s the problem? You’re a tyrant?” Hodges responds.
“Yeah, I am, actually,” she says.
The deputy asks Hodges for his name and date of birth, but he refuses to provide the information, arguing that she doesn’t have reasonable cause to make such a request.
“Do you want me to put you in handcuffs right now?” the deputy asks.
“What is your suspicion?” he asks.
“It looked like you were carrying a gun in your back pocket,” the deputy says. “I’m stopping to make sure you’re carrying it properly.”
The man then pulls out the stick and shows it to the other deputy, who says it could resemble a gun.
“Her suspicion was that you were armed,” the deputy says.
“But now she’s verified that I am not armed,” says Hodges, who again refuses to present his ID, at which point they place him in handcuffs and appear to take his driver’s license out of his pocket.
When asked if he is legally blind, Hodges says he is and explains that his jury duty was canceled.
“Why weren’t you using your stick? You don’t have to use your stick all the time?” a deputy asks.
“Not all the time,” Hodges replies and asks the female deputy for her badge number.
“You know what? Put him in jail for resisting,” an officer is heard saying at that point.
Hodges was charged with resisting arrest without violence, Action News Jax reported.
The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that “Sheriff Hunter is troubled by what he has seen in the video and the matter is being addressed.
“An administrative investigation was initiated on November 3, 2022 when the incident was brought to our attention. If policy violations are sustained at the conclusion of that investigation, appropriate action will be taken,” it said.
Hodges told First Coast News that he has gotten support from the community after the incident.
“Makes my chest swell up not in a proud way, in a very appreciative way,” he told the outlet, adding that he has made a formal complaint against the deputies.