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Video for context: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5yNlwCQpO0&list=LL&index=1

Jim Hodges was walking down the street from jury duty. A female police officer stops Jim because she believed he was carrying a weapon in his back pocket.

Officer 1: "Whats is this in your back pocket?"

Jim: "It's a navigational aid. What's the problem? Are you a Tyrant?"

Officer 1: "Yea, I am actually. What's your name and DOB?"

Jim: "I don't have to answer that. Do you have reasonable articulate suspicion?"

Officer 1: "I do"

Jim: "What is your suspicion?"

Officer 1: "It looked like you are carrying a gun in your back pocket. I'm stopping to insure you are carrying it properly"

Jim: "Well have you insured it is a firearm?"

Officer 1: "No you keep turning so I can't see it. You don't have to be a dick to me"

Jim: "Well, you are being one to me"

Jim pulls out his fold-able walking cane (He is legally blind) from his back pocket DISPELLING the concern about carrying a gun.

She proceeds to ask him for ID and he refuses to give it. The initial officer's sergeant shows up and he demands ID. After refusing a second time, he is handcuffed. They start searching Jim and he advises them that he does not consent to a search of his person.

They reach into his pocket, pull out his ID and run it. His ID comes back clean.

Officer 1: "Was that hard?"

Jim: "It going to be for you".

The sergeant throws his hands up in disgust to what he hears.

"Arrest him for resisting".

Jim was charged with "resisting arrest without violence".

All Charges were immediately dropped. Officer 1, Was suspended without pay for 7 days. The Sergeant was demoted & suspended without pay for 7 days.

Relevant Florida case law:

  • Macon v. State (Fla app. 2003): Allows resistance of unlawful arrest without violence

Questions:

  • Were Jim's rights violated?
  • Is there a aggravated violation due to Jim being legally disabled?
  • Are Police allowed to search a detained persons pockets for merely a detention after being advised they are not allowed?
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    I don’t think his alleged disability is relevant to the question. Commented Nov 7, 2022 at 15:33
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    The fact that he was blind only matters as it perfectly explains the reason why he would have a folded walking stick on his person.
    – hszmv
    Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 17:02

3 Answers 3

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I don’t believe there is an aggravated violation due to his disability, but it is quite likely that a court will find that to be a violation of his rights.

Florida’s stop and frisk law 901.151(2) would indicate the original stop and temporary detention was valid, but once the item in his back pocket had been identified, 901.151(3) requires that the detention be immediately terminated.

After the identification, he was no longer being legally detained, it was thus either an illegal detention and a violation of his 4th amendment rights or a consensual encounter under Florida law, and if consensual no requirement to Id. But just because it was a violation of his rights doesn’t mean that he will automatically win a lawsuit if he brings one.

Jones v. State, 584 So.2d 190 (Fla. 5th DCA 1991) holds that you can’t be charged with resisting arrest without violence (aka 843.01), when the arrest itself is unlawful. I suppose Hodges could be charged with “obstructing” which is covered by the same statue, but more ambiguous than “arrest”.

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    All charges have been dropped. Sargent was demoted suspended, other officer was suspended. Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 16:27
  • There is also Macon v. State (Fla app. 2003) which allows suspects to resist an unlawful arrest without violence. Commented Nov 13, 2022 at 17:10
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There are some variations that depends on jurisdiction, so I pick Washington as an illustration.
Under RCW 9.41.050, it is illegal to carry a concealed weapon in public without a license. A brief stop is therefore lawful to determine that there is no violation of the law.
Having determined that the item is not a weapon, there is no requirement to provide identification and no grounds for further detention. The only identification requirement in Washington pertains to drivers who have been stopped.

On-the-street stop and identify law exist in some states like Ohio, but such laws only apply to persons reasonably suspected of criminal acts or witnessing criminal acts. Once the cane is produced, there is no reason to suspect such a thing (did you leave out some detail in your hypothetical).

Back to Washington, RCW 9A.76.040 says that "A person is guilty of resisting arrest if he or she intentionally prevents or attempts to prevent a peace officer from lawfully arresting him or her". Not complying with an unlawful order when not being arrested is not resisting arrest. The officers know this, so the actual arrest for resisting would be unlawful (unlawful imprisonment), however from the local perspective, police may have qualified immunity.

Specifically, in Washington v. Guffey, 103 Wn.2d 144 "A police officer is immune from liability for false arrest and false imprisonment when he acts pursuant to and in accordance with a statute he reasonably believes to be valid".

On the third hand, in that case, there was a reasonable albeit incorrect belief that a statute "appears to vest unconstrained discretion in the officer to stop any vehicle during daylight hours while using plainly marked patrol cars". The answer then comes down to whether a police officer can reasonably believe that there is a statute requiring a person on the street to produce ID.

Disability status is irrelevant.

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    Excellent answer. Just a couple quick comments: the RCW you linked to is specific to firearms, (actually pistols) not weapons in general. Whether or not the cane might have been construed as a weapon is also irrelevant to the RCW, because it wasn't concealed. Commented Nov 7, 2022 at 23:03
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    Not a hypothetical, state is Florida
    – jmoreno
    Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 0:32
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    "concealed weapon": if one had a firearm of the same dimensions as that folded cane sticking out of one's back pocket, would that meet some specific definition of "concealed" that applies to this statute? It is certainly not concealed in the ordinary sense of the word.
    – phoog
    Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 16:13
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    @phoog: The laws on conceal carry don't have an exception if you poorly concealed it. Rather it looks at the intent of the person carrying the weapon to do so in a manner that does not draw attention to the weapon.
    – hszmv
    Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 16:25
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    So here "conceal" means, contrary to its usual meaning, "not draw attention to." I don't see that anywhere in the statute; was this established by judicial precedent?
    – phoog
    Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 16:35
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In the state of Florida, it is unlawful to give a false identity to the police when you are detained or arrested. What is unclear from my search is if this law is violated if the suspect refuses to answer or provide identifying documents to the detaining/arresting officer.

At either rate, another complication comes to light in that the request is only valid while detained. To detain someone, an officer must have reasonable suspicion that the person is committing a crime. In this specific case, the reasonable suspicion of a concealed weapon did exist, however, once the reasonable suspicion no long exists, detention ends immediately. Thus it should follow that the officer notices the unusual item in the back pocket that she believes is a concealed weapon, she detains the suspect on the grounds of investigating a possible unlawfully concealed weapon, the suspect shows the item in question, revealing it is a walking stick and he is blind, the detention ends as the reasonable suspicion no longer exists, the officer asks to see his ID, he refuses, the story goes on from there.

Thus the basis for the request for ID is no longer in play at the time the request was made. It's perfectly reasonable for a blind man to not want to show ID when he has not committed any crime nor could have been suspected of committing a crime on the basis that finding the correct document in his wallet will be that much harder because he cannot see.

In fact, given the exchange, it seems like the SGT only had him booked for resisting arrest after he mouthed off when they searched him for his ID. Again, since we haven't established refusing to identify is a form of giving a false identity, this is unlikely, as we established, the detention should have ended once there was no reasonable suspicion to do so. Resisting arrest is a legal misnomer in the State of Florida, as it is actually called "Resisting an Officer" and covers a variety of events that would prevent an officer from carrying out their legal duties. There is no legal duty to demand identification from a person who should not be lawfully detained.

That said, digging into the specifics of the case, I found that the matter is under internal investigation from the Sheriff, which seems promising in that a senior officer recognizes the arrest seems to have been bad in nature. As for lawsuits, it's difficult to find damages (time lost and legal fees for the suspect, possible punitive damages) but it's likely the State will make efforts to settle out of court, as most state attorneys will try to avoid dragging any law of failure to identify into court as to avoid it potentially being looked as a violation of compelled testimony.

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