JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A 21-year-old man facing a jaywalking charge after a confrontation with a Jacksonville police officer was in court Wednesday to fight the ticket. The incident was caught on camera and the video went viral.
His trial date was set for Sept. 7.
But Devonte Shipman and his attorney said the issue is bigger than the charge of failing to obey a traffic light while walking.
"I felt like it was a smart thing for me to do in order to get it on camera to make sure my life wasn't in jeopardy over me crossing the street," Shipman said of why he chose to film his encounter with Officer Jack Bolen.
In the video, Bolen told Shipman that he could be taken to jail for "disobeying a direct order," after being stopped while crossing a street without waiting for a walk signal.
Bolen ticketed Shipman for a jaywalking violation, and for not carrying his driver's license and exhibiting it on demand, citing a statute that applies to drivers, not walkers. Together the two citations would have cost Shipman $198.
Court records indicate the driver's license charge was voided and a notation on the ticket reads “Issued in error.”
"This case, among others, shows why we should have body cameras on all of our officers," Shipman's attorney, Eric Friday, said after Wednesday's arraignment. "We have the technology. This would not be a question."
Shipman said he was crossing the intersection of Arlington and Lillian roads when the officer stopped him and his friend.
"I guess the red hand was up, but I didn't see cars. As we grew up in school being taught, 'Look left and right and then we can cross.' So that's what I did," Shipman told News4Jax after the video went viral.
Shipman said he recorded the encounter. In the video, viewed more than 500,000 times, the officer threatens to arrest Shipman for resisting when he questions the stop.
"Just from everything that's been going on nowadays with police and civilians, I wanted to make sure I was recorded," Shipman said. "There's no telling what he would have done if I wasn't recording."
Jacksonville civil rights groups have condemned the citations, suggesting Shipman was the victim of racial profiling.
Shipman made a point Wednesday of asking why he was the only one ticketed when he was not only in crossing the street against the signal.
"It's kind of just sad to see that I was the one singled out," Shipman said, adding that he believed it was because he spoke up when the officer stopped them. "I didn't get violent with them. I didn't try to run. I was just standing my ground, basically."
JSO said the driver's license citation was voided because the wrong statute number was used.
JSO records show Bolen received a written reprimand for failing to conform to work standards in 2010 and was charged for a traffic accident in 2014.
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