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FL Deputies Face Punishments After Wrongful Arrest Of A Blind Man

A sheriff’s deputy, Jayme Gohde, stopped a legally blind man walking down the street in northern Florida on Oct. 31, thinking the object in his back pocket might be a gun. It turned out to be a walking cane, reports the Washington Post. Even though she quickly learned he wasn’t armed, the encounter escalated: James Hodges refused to give the deputy his ID, and she handcuffed him with the help of her sergeant, Randy Harrison. On Tuesday, Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter announced that Harrison was being demoted immediately and suspended without pay for seven days. Gohde was suspended without pay for two days. As part of their punishment, both must go through remedial civil rights training. Taking “full responsibility” for what happened, Hunter apologized to Hodges for his arrest. He thanked Hodges for reporting what deputies had done, saying correcting such misconduct is “how we get better … how we learn.”

Hodges, 61, was charged with resisting an officer without violence, a misdemeanor, and jailed. On Monday, a prosecutor dismissed the case. According to Gohde, she was in her cruiser when she spotted what she thought was a chrome pistol in Hodge’s back right pocket. Hodges showed Gohde his walking cane, which she had mistaken for a gun. Hodges refused to provide his name and date of birth, telling Gohde that she didn’t have legal grounds to demand the information. Gohde said she wanted to make sure he was carrying his supposed gun “properly.” “I’m deeply saddened by the negative impact that this has on our agency and this situation has caused to us,” Hunter said in a video posted to the sheriff’s office’s Facebook page. “I want to reassure you that as your sheriff, we do make mistakes, but we take corrective action to fix them.”


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