James Hodges Lawsuit 2024: Blind Man Arrested For Walking Stick

The attorney representing blind veteran James Hodges had filed a notice of intent to sue the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office after the man’s cane was mistaken for a weapon.

Two deputies from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office in Florida are facing suspension, and Sheriff Mark Hunter has apologized for the improper arrest of James Hodges, a visually challenged man.

On the morning of October 31, deputies captured Hodges, 61, after mistaking his walking cane for a handgun.

He was charged with resisting an officer without violence, according to an arrest record and body camera footage provided by the sheriff’s office to NBC News.

Sheriff Hunter recognized the incorrect arrest in a video message aired on Facebook, naming Deputy Jayme Gohde and her supervisor, Sgt. Randy Harrison is the individual responsible.

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James Hodges Lawsuit Update In 2024

James Hodges’ lawsuit claims that the incident that resulted in his unjust detention was not an isolated occurrence but rather the product of systematic failures within the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.

The lawsuit claims that Sheriff Mark Hunter, as leader of the department, is responsible for cultivating a culture of irresponsibility and contempt for people with disabilities.

Hunter is named a defendant in the complaint, along with the deputies directly engaged in Hodges’ arrest.

Hodges told The Daily Beast the tragic account of how he lost his vision in 1995 during a violent altercation on Baltimore’s streets.

James Hodges Lawsuit
James Hodges’s Lawsuit claims that the incident resulting from his unjust detention was not an isolated occurrence. (Source- The Daily Beast)

He described the anguish of waking up in a hospital only to discover that he had entirely lost his sight following the removal of stitches from his face.

In addition, his path to blindness highlights the hardships and adversity he has encountered throughout his life.

Hodges sought justice by pursuing damages that would be judged by a jury, emphasizing the gravity of the injustice he suffered.

The action represents his commitment to hold those who have violated his rights and dignity accountable.

James Hodges: Blind Man Arrested For Walking Stick

James Hodges, 61, of Lake City, was arrested on the morning of October 31, 2022.

He was charged with resisting an officer without using violence, according to the arrest record and body camera footage released to NBC News by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Mark Hunter identified the deputies involved in the arrest in a Facebook post on Tuesday: Deputy Jayme Gohde and her supervisor, Sgt. Randy Harrison.

James Hodges Lawsuit
James Hodges claims the cops, one of whom was demoted for the event, violated his civil rights. (Source- WCJB)

Hunter announced that the deputies would be suspended without pay, and Harrison was demoted following an investigation launched after Hodges requested the body camera footage from his arrest.

According to the arrest report, despite a traffic control device’s instruction, Gohde stopped Hodges for crossing a crosswalk.

The report stated that it was a misty morning, and drivers were utilizing headlights. Hodges allegedly carried a “silver (chrome) pistol with a white grip in his back right pocket.”

NBC News cannot corroborate the events before the video was given by the sheriff’s office or whether it was manipulated.

Furthermore, the sheriff’s spokesperson declined to make any further comments concerning the footage.

In addition, the video shows Harrison explaining that the cane could be mistaken for a weapon and that he should identify himself if asked.

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