Not every American is polite. Not every American willingly hands over identification when unjustly stopped by the police. However, police have a responsibility to do their jobs professionally rather than using a person’s bad manners as an excuse to arrest them. On Monday, Hot Air posted an article telling the story of an arrest that I believe should never have been made.
The article reports:
According to the arrest report, the deputy stopped 61-year-old James Hodges, because she thought he may have had a gun in his back pocket.
Hodges objected to being stopped, and shortly after deputies confirmed he was carrying a walking stick. Hodges refused to provide his ID to the deputies, while objecting to being detained.
“He repeatedly refused to allow identification of the object in his his pocket as well as refusing to identify himself,” the arrest report says.
Do police have the right to stop you and question you because they are suspicious of what you have in your pocket?
The story continues:
That’s what happened but it really doesn’t convey the sense of the encounter. Things started off civil with a “Hi there” from the female officer and a “Hey” in response from Hodges. “What’s this in your back pocket?” the officer asked. At that point, Hodges got a bit hostile. “It’s a navigational aid. What’s the problem are you a tyrant?” he replied.
The officer also seems to have abandoned her professionalism by responding in kind “Yeah, I am actually,” she said. It’s downhill from there.
Hodges does some sidewalk lawyering, refusing to give his name and asks what probably cause the officer had to stop him. She explained that it appeared he might have a gun which was not being carried properly. At this point, Hodges pulled out his folded walking stick and showed it to the officer. It turns out he is legally blind though officers didn’t know that at the start of the encounter.
Having established that there was no gun or other weapon involved (and therefore no probably cause to suspect a crime), that ought to be the end of it. Hodges seems content to walk on but the officers aren’t willing to let it go. Instead they handcuff Hodges and pull out his ID. He asks for their names and badge numbers but he’s not resisting in any way. Other than turning his head he’s not moving at all.
When police realized he’s legally blind they asked why he wasn’t using the stick to walk. Hodges replied that he doesn’t have to use it all the time but did need it earlier when he walked to jury duty because it was dark out.
After running his license a voice on the radio says the word “green.” The female officer then said to Hodges, who was still in handcuffs “All right Mr. Hodges was that that hard?”
“It’s gonna be. I want your name and your badge numbers,” Hodges replied. Now he’s not letting it go but he’s still perfectly calm.
The second officer snaps, “You know what, put him in jail for resisting.” And that’s what they did.
The local sheriff’s office says they are investigating the incident. I hope they are. I also hope that Mr. Hodges sues Columbia County Florida for arresting him. Generally I support the police, but I think they were wrong here. Please follow the link to the article to see the video of the arrest.