Blind veteran’s attorney held press conference to announce lawsuit
LAKE CITY, Fla. (WCJB) -On October 31st, James Hodges was walking home from jury duty when he was confronted by Columbia County Deputy Jayme Ghode after she mistook his walking cane for a gun.
After failure to show an I.D., Ghode and Sergeant Randall Harrison placed the blind veteran under arrest. Hodges spent more than 24 hours in jail for resisting an officer and now he wants to sue CCSO for monetary damages. His attorney John Phillips said his client was unlawfully arrested.
“People normally think of federal civil rights cases or police cases in the form of shootings or death and certainly that’s most of the cases we take. But we’ve got to stop the systemic abuses,” said Phillips. “To have accountability on the small cases stops issues on their tracks before they become big ones.”
Phillips invited residents to Downtown Lake City to announce the lawsuit.
“It’s sad that it takes a situation that involves a blind man to get the community in an uproar but it’s very important,” said Former Lake City Commissioner Glenel Bowden. “So, now that the community is aware of the injustices and false arrest and the improper treatment of people in our community.”
Community Activist Sylvester Warren who has been fighting for police injustice for years say as soon as he heard about the case, he immediately stepped in to help Hodges find a lawyer.
“There are probably 1,000 more of these but people are so fearful when it comes to job security and everything else that they won’t speak up and speak out.” said Warren. “I think if we do and people really begin to see the numbers of these things that are taking place, I think more people will come off the sidelines and on the court.”
According to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, the deputies involved were found to have violated sheriff’s office policies. They were suspended for a week without pay and will have to undergo civil rights training. Sergeant Harrison has been demoted.
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