Drug Law

Florida Deputy Kills Unarmed Man Over Bag of Marijuana

| by NORML

By "Radical" Russ Belville

 

(Jacksonville.com) [Deputy Ernest] Cole, a five-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, had received information on the night of Sept. 11 from a narcotics detective that a man named Ray, riding a purple and white motorcycle, might be carrying a large amount of marijuana.

When [Franklin "Ray"] Bodden rode his bike by the deputy’s radar, according to a report by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the State Attorney’s Office, Cole clocked him traveling 76 mph in a 45 mph zone.

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A video released to the family and shared with the media shows that Bodden and his passenger, friend Anthony Weeks, told the officer they didn’t think they were going that fast. They exchanged small talk. Both men denied they had anything illegal on them, and Cole asked if he could pat them down.

David “Bo” Bright, a new hire with the corrections department, was riding with Cole as a civilian and pointing a flashlight at Bodden. According to the state attorney’s investigative report, released by the family, Weeks dropped a pill during the pat-down and bent to pick it up, causing Cole to slam him against the car. Simultaneously, Bodden reached for his pockets and, in the light, Bright saw what appears to be a silver object in his hand. Bright started yelling to the deputy and in a matter of seconds Bodden was shot twice and fell to the ground.

The object was a cylindrical, tightly wrapped bag of marijuana, investigators later said.

Was Bodden taking the opportunity to chuck his bag of weed while Deputy Cole was busy with Weeks?  From the police car, was it possible for Bright to mistake the silvery-green shimmer of a rolled up bag of weed as the barrel of a gun?  Does it matter that it was a nighttime stop with one officer dealing with two citizens, notably Bodden, who had numerous small drug convictions on his record?

Deputy Cole’s shooting of Bodden was determined to be a justifiable homicide.  Cole’s back on the job.  So if you’re motorcycling through Jacksonville, obey the speed limit and keep your weed in your pocket.