A viral video posted to Facebook last week shows a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office cop 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. Shipman was issued two traffic citations for failing to obey a walk signal and not having a license. Shipman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on social media.
Shipman’s video, which was recorded on his smartphone, begins midway through the encounter. Officer Bolen tells Shipman he is being detained for crossing the street outside the crosswalk and without waiting for the signal and to go wait by his patrol vehicle. An unidentified male, who was with Shipman, was also detained.
“If you don’t, I’m going to put you in jail,” Officer Bolen says, “So go to my car.”
Shipman calmly pushes back against Bolen, who appears agitated in the video. Shipman tells him he’s not resisting and walks over to Bolen’s car with him. Bolen threatens to detain him for “up to seven hours” while he figures out his identity because Shipman doesn’t have his license on him.
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 tells the officer his name and date of birth when asked in the video.
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.”
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