UPDATE II: Sergeant Gary Wilson has been placed on paid administrative leave following the viral video below breaking.
UPDATE: Riviera Beach Police Department’s PIO Rose Ann Brown states that the department has opened it’s own investigation, based on the video below into the incident with Officer Wilson – whom they identify as Sergeant Gary Wilson – and who has been with the police force there for a “long time”. Sergeant Wilson reported the incident yesterday to his department, but Riviera Beach PD only saw the video today, and they would not make Wilson’s report available at this time, as it is now part of an active Internal Affairs investigation file.
Florida man Isiah James served his country for 10 years. He survived two trips to Iraq and one to Afganistan.
Riviera Beach cop G. Wilson took less than 10 minutes to decide that the Army veteran Isiah James didn’t deserve a handicapped sticker.
Isiah’s $800 iPhone 6+ didn’t survive a trip to the Walgreens.
James had family in town on vacation, and father doesn’t drive, so he took father to the store. On his way home, the two man stopped at a Walgreen’s liquor store.
Cop followed Isiah James into the store before running the handicap space.
Isiah was getting ready to pay, when the officer entered the store and demanded that he leave. Another 20 seconds and he would’ve paid and left.
The Florida cop put on his doctor’s hat and declared that, “You’re walking, you’re not handicapped, someone else should use this space.”
When Isiah had already identified himself, the offer got upset at his tone of voice and took a swipe at his four month old iPhone 6+ which he used to record the incident, cracking the screen of the device.
“He had every right to check the plackard, it was displayed according to Florida law” said James, but about the assault he commented, “if I’d done the same to him, I’d have at least taken a taser in the ass.”
It cracked the screen, but that wasn’t enough for Officer Wilson, who extended the stop more than ten minutes further.
“He could’ve been a doctor, or Doogie Howser, it wouldn’t matter. The tag was displayed legally. I wasn’t bothering anybody, I don’t understand why I was bothered and assaulted” said James.
The video shows most of the incident after Isiah James was summoned outside by the officer.
For all of the times the officer claimed to call in the numbers, it makes little sense since James rapidly displayed his identification and multiple forms of identification proving his right to a handicap space.
James has no reason to hate cops, and according to him, “my brother in law – who I love like a brother – is a cop in north Florida.”
“I have no ill will towards cops, just towards assholes.”
“Why didn’t I leave? Dude had my driver’s license.”
It’s debatable if James really was free to leave, at which point he asked a nearby EMT to call the police, and they declined saying “the police are already here,” but fortunately a good samaritan phoned the cops to get another officer, also a veteran on the scene. To that second Riviera Beach PD officer’s credit, he did everything he could to explicitly de-escalate the situation.
According to James, the paperwork should have been enough, and he’s right. Florida law gives no leeway to police to decide who deserves a handicap sticker for their car, just to enforce the law when someone parks handicap without one.
James acquired numerous injuries while serving his country:
“Had my ankle brace on, brace on my right knee, the one being held together by screws. Custom orthopedic inserts in shoes, all worn under my clothes when he stopped me, but the cop didn’t know that I have osteoarthritis. Didn’t know that my hand where he punched me is the hand I had surgery on to re-attach my tendons, from a non-service injury. Was exposed to burn pits in Iraq and my lungs don’t function at 100% anymore after pulmonary testing, but he didn’t ask me, he just assaulted me. I have a stack of medical records the size of the bible.”
According to the Palm Beach County native, he’s never had any trouble with the law before,
“I have no criminal record, just got first traffic ticket ever a few months ago. I grew up in Riviera Beach and was one of the few who made it out.”
Recording cut off because James ran out of memory on the phone when the second officer was speaking with him.
Unfortunately for Officer Wilson, courts have upheld the right to speak, and the right to record the police as First Amendment protected activities, which James knew.
I’m sure this Florida cop regrets his reaction to a few angry words now that James is going to file an Internal Affairs complaint, which will likely grow into a lawsuit.
“I was an infantryman. We have a right to curse.” said James “I’m not going to sit idly by while being screwed.”
When we spoke to Isiah James, he was in the lobby of the Riviera Beach Police Department waiting for over 30 minutes to speak with a supervisor and have his complaint taken. They told him that someone had tried to retrieve him from the lobby and he was gone, while we were speaking, and until we sent this tweet, officers refused to see him.
Please go to your lobby & accept Mr. Isiah James' IA complaint against Ofc. G. Wilson for Assault. He's there now.
— PINAC News (@PINACnews) August 10, 2015
No ticket, nor summons was issued about the incident, James did get his identification returned in the end and left, and posted the video you see below to YouTube, but not before police used those few minutes to let him feel the arbitrary hand of injustice under color of law.