Blind veteran prepares to file lawsuit against Columbia County Sheriff’s Office following arrest
LAKE CITY, Fla. (WCJB) - The attorney representing a blind veteran has sent a notice of intent to pursue damages against the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office after the man’s cane was mistaken for a pistol.
James Hodges is pursuing damages resulting from the “egregious, and excessive acts of its officers.” On Oct. 31, Hodges was detained, searched, and arrested by Officer Jayme Gohde and Sergeant Randall Harrison while he walked home from jury duty.
Body camera video shows the exchange between Gohde and Hodges when she mistook the folded-up cane in his back pocket for a gun. Hodges explained to the deputy that the item was a cane and even showed it to her.
The legal team says the sheriff’s office violated Hodges’ constitutional rights when the deputies then continued to question the man and demand his I.D. Hodges refused and was arrested on a charge of resisting an officer.
Hodges then spent more than 24 hours behind bars.
Following an investigation, the sheriff’s office disciplined both offices with short suspensions and additional training.
According to the notice, Hodges seeks compensatory damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, inconvenience, loss of use of personal property, loss of earnings, loss of liberty, out-of-pocket expenses as a result of his arrest and booking, embarrassment, and deprivation of his civil and Constitutional Rights. The sheriff’s office and the City of Lake City are named in the notice.
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