Florida: Columbia County Sergeant Gave Illegal Order to Arrest Legally Blind Man, Internal Affairs Report Says


“Sgt. Harrison and Deputy Gohde were both shown that James did not have a weapon. At that point James should have been free to leave,” a Columbia County Sheriff’s Office internal affairs report states.

“They detained James, searched his pockets for identification, and ultimately arrested him with insufficient probable cause. The arrest was made after Sgt. Harrison gave an unlawful order to make an arrest after probable cause did not exist.

The report finds the Deputy and Sergeant violated several policies including: “No person has a constitutional right to violate the law nor may any person be deprived of constitutional rights merely because of suspicion of having committed a crime.”

The report faults the Deputy for not communicating with Hodges in a professional manner. It faults the Sergeant for acting in a way that hurts morale. It also says the two of them failed to “Possess the necessary working knowledge of all laws…” The Sheriff disciplined the Deputy and Sergeant, demoting him. 


“The administrative investigation concluded the afternoon of 11/7 allegations of policy violations against these two deputies were sustained. As a result of these findings, Sergeant Harrison will be demoted immediately, suspended without pay for seven days, and will not be eligible for any favorable action for two years. Deputy Gohde will be suspended without pay for two days. Both deputies will be required to undergo remedial training pertaining to civil rights,” Sheriff Hunter said.


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