A viral video posted to Facebook last week shows a Jacksonville sheriff’s officer threatening a young black man with jail time after he crossed the street without a walk signal.
The video shows Officer J.S. Bolen detaining Devonte Shipman and threatening to take him to jail for “disobeying a direct order” and “resisting without violence” after he stopped him over for jaywalking.
The Sheriff’s Office said it is reviewing the video but that Bolen is not under investigation at the time. Bolen cited Shipman twice for failing to obey a walk signal and not having a license. Shipman’s friend was also detained, but was not cited.
Shipman, 21, told the Times-Union he lives within walking distance of where the stop happened in Arlington. He said the officer approached in his car and told him and his friend to come over because they had just crossed the road against the signal. He contended that the signal was still blinking when they started walking and stopped halfway through.
Initially, Shipman said, he declined to approach the officer’s car because he didn’t understand why he was being stopped. As soon as the officer got out of his car, Shipman said, he started recording.
“There’s no way I was disrespectful or anything to make this man react the way he did, period,” Shipman said.
In the video, Bolen tells Shipman he is being detained for crossing the street outside the crosswalk and not waiting for the signal. He orders him to wait by his patrol vehicle.
“If you don’t, I’m going to put you in jail,” Bolen says. “So go to my car.”
Shipman calmly questions Bolen, who appears agitated in the video. He tells the officer that he’s not resisting and walks over to Bolen’s car with him. Bolen continues to threatens to detain him, for “up to seven hours,” while he figures out his identity because Shipman doesn’t have his license on him. Shipman volunteered his name and date of birth when asked.
The Sheriff’s Office cited Florida statute 322.15(1) as to why Shipman was given a citation, but the statute only applies to drivers, not pedestrians. It states that every licensee must have his or her license on them “when operating a motor vehicle.”
Shipman said he was as calm as possible and recorded the encounter out of fear it might turn violent, because of how upset the officer seemed.
“If you look at the video, if you pay attention to his body language, he’s grabbing his hands like he wanted to do something to me,” Shipman said. “I didn’t escalate the situation. I was trying to figure out what I did wrong.”
Diallo Sekou, a grassroots black activist who is running for Katrina Brown’s seat on the city council, said these types of pedestrian infractions are routinely handed out in the city’s black communities. He said reshaping those policies is one of the reasons he decided to run for office.
“It’s walking while black,” Sekou said. “This is Jim Crow when it comes to these laws and ordinances in the city.”
When Shipman questions what he did that was illegal, Bolen states again that he crossed against the walk signal. Shipman says he simply wasn’t paying attention.
“You act like I really just committed a serious crime that’s worth this time right now,” Shipman says.
Bolen counters that “it is worth the time.”
“There was two cars that were coming through the intersection that had to slow down,” Bolen says in the video. “They had the right of way, not you.”
As the two argue, another person crosses the street and is not detained for it.
The video comes as the Sheriff’s Office prepares to roll out its pilot program for body cameras in early July. But it’s unclear whether this type of situation would have required the officer to record the encounter.
Shipman appears incredulous throughout the video.
“Three cop cars, all because we crossed the mother——ing street though,” Shipman says. “We crossed the street, that’s all we did.”
Shipman said he has no intention of paying either citation and that he and the officer already spoke about meeting again in court.
“He was like, ‘I hope you take that option to take it to court,’” Shipman said, “‘Because I promise you I’m going to be there.’”
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