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The Ticketed Feel Targeted

A truck driver, a mother, a lawyer and a number of young men offer their accounts of walking while black.

Michael Anderson stands near where he was stopped by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office on Bridier Street, on Jacksonville's Eastside. At the time Anderson was visiting his mother in the neighborhood where he grew up and was walking to the store. (Bruce Lipsky/Florida Times-Union)

Maurice Chester Grant

  • 57 years old
  • Federal public defender
  • Ticketed on 5/24/16 for entering the roadway against the red hand
  • Paid ticket

Maurice Grant was cited on a Tuesday at around 4:30 p.m., just a block south of the federal courthouse where he works. He stepped into the road against the red hand. Grant declined to comment on his experience, saying he avoids airing issues out in the media. He did, however, confirm that he received the citation. Grant added that a quote written on the ticket accurately captured his response to getting cited: “You shouldn’t be messing with people who know how to cross the street.” Grant was ticketed by Officer Reinaldo Coll Jr., a 35-year veteran of the force.

Brianna Nonord

  • 13 years old
  • Student
  • Ticketed on 4/28/15 for crossing the road outside the crosswalk
  • Paid ticket

Brianna Nonord, who was 13 at the time, ended up in handcuffs over a pedestrian ticket.

As she was walking home from school, Nonord attempted to cross Wilson Street in the Moncrief neighborhood.

Officer Melissa Godbee later wrote in her report that she had to slam her brakes to avoid hitting Nonord.

Undersheriff Patrick Ivey said Nonord was arrested for resisting arrest without violence because she didn’t stop when Godbee told her.

The young girl was handcuffed and taken to the juvenile facility in downtown Jacksonville even after Lorina Nonord, Brianna’s mother, showed up and asked the officer to release her daughter. Godbee refused, Lorina Nonord said, and told her she would have to pick up Brianna downtown.

At the root of all of this was an invalid ticket. Godbee cited Nonord for crossing outside the crosswalk at a location that a Times-Union/ProPublica analysis shows is not applicable to that specific pedestrian statute.

John F. Kendrick was ordered to the ground, detained for hours, arrested and charged with jaywalking and “resisting arrest without violence” after stepping off the sidewalk into a crosswalk. (Bruce Lipsky/Florida Times-Union)

John Fitzgerald Kendrick

  • 48 years old
  • Truck driver
  • Ticketed on 4/8/15 for walking in the roadway where sidewalks are provided
  • Won settlement against the city, ticket dropped

John Kendrick, a Jacksonville truck driver, was trying to park his 18-wheeler in a leased parking spot when he came across an area taped off by police.

The officer regulating traffic, J. L. Kahre, would not let Kendrick pass. They got into a dispute.

Kendrick, who is diabetic and needed to get home to eat, eventually parked his truck in the median and called 911. The dispatcher told him to get the number listed on Kahre’s cruiser. But when Kendrick stepped off the sidewalk, the officer pointed his Taser at him and ordered him to the ground. He then arrested him for a pedestrian violation.

“Anything he could put on me to hurt me, he tried,” Kendrick said. “Anything he could do to take more money out of my pocket, he tried.”

The officer repeatedly told him he “wasn’t going to have no job tomorrow,” according to Kendrick. He was detained in the backseat of the patrol car for several hours, during which Kendrick said he watched Kahre let a white truck driver pass through the same police tape.

Kahre testified in a deposition taken for Kendrick’s civil case against the city that he could not recall whether that happened or not. He said Kendrick repeatedly failed to comply with orders to get back on the sidewalk.

In the aftermath of his arrest, Kendrick hired a lawyer, Andrew Bonderud. The city settled the case for $10,000, while not admitting wrongdoing.

Devonte Shipman

  • 21 years old
  • Landscaper
  • Ticketed on 6/20/17 for failing to obey a pedestrian walk signal
  • Fought ticket and was adjudicated guilty

Devonte Shipman was walking with a friend in Jacksonville’s Arlington neighborhood when a sheriff’s officer told them they had crossed against the red hand.

Shipman said he at first declined to stop for the officer, J.S. Bolen, because he didn’t think he had done anything wrong.

When the officer pulled over and ordered Shipman to stop, the young man took out his phone and began recording video. He said he did so to prevent the situation from escalating.

In the video, Bolen is visibly agitated and scolds Shipman for his infraction, threatening to take him to jail. Bolen also gave Shipman an erroneous ticket for not having a driver’s license on him, a law that only applies to motorists.

The ticket was dropped after Shipman’s video went viral. Three police cruisers ended up responding to Shipman’s infraction.

During the stop, Shipman said an officer told him he was stopped just to make sure he didn’t have any guns, knives or drugs on him.

One officer in the video, who was not identified, can be heard questioning why Shipman’s friend is wearing a hoodie. Shipman fought his jaywalking ticket in court, but was eventually adjudicated guilty.

Bobby Wingate

  • 35 years old
  • Unknown
  • Ticketed on 12/26/12 for walking on the right-hand side of the road
  • Won a civil settlement against the city

Under Florida law, police officers can ticket pedestrians walking on the “wrong side” of a road that doesn’t have sidewalks.

On the day after Christmas in 2012, Wingate was walking on a residential street with no sidewalks when a Jacksonville sheriff’s officer asked to speak with him. Wingate declined. He told the officer he was in a rush.

Wingate went on his way without realizing that the officer, D.F. Will, had pulled over in his cruiser and started combing through his statute book to double-check that the 35-year-old was violating a pedestrian statute by being on the right-hand side of the road.

The officer returned about five minutes later. Wingate’s account was captured on a 911 call he made to the Sheriff’s Office in the midst of the stop.

Will pulled his car around, Wingate tells the dispatcher, and again asked him to stop.

“And I’m saying, ‘For what? I’m in a rush,’” Wingate says in the 911 call. “Then he gonna get out of his car, run up and grab me, and punch me in my fucking jaw.”

Wingate tells the dispatcher the officer’s name. Within moments, the officer can be heard commanding Wingate to put his phone down. A scuffle ensues.

“What did I do? Nothing,” Wingate said, “Walking down the street, minding my business … He stopped me for no reason.” In addition to getting hit with a ticket, and hit in the face, Wingate was also charged with resisting without violence. He hired lawyer Andrew Bonderud, sued the city, and received a $9,500 settlement. The city did not admit wrongdoing.

Brelan Shoemo stands outside of EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. (Bruce Lipsky/Florida Times-Union)

Brelan Shoemo

  • 33 years old
  • Sports merchandiser/ticket broker
  • Ticketed for “walking in the roadway where sidewalks are provided” and “obstructing traffic/soliciting.”

Brelan Shoemo is from Jacksonville, but his work selling event tickets, shirts and other wares takes him all over the South, from Austin, Texas, to Charlotte, North Carolina.

On the day he was arrested, the Jacksonville Jaguars were hosting the Green Bay Packers. It was still early in the morning, around 9 a.m., on a Florida-hot September day when Shoemo encountered Officer Tim Terrell on the north side of the stadium, near the Tailgate Bar.

The then-32-year-old was holding a sign advertising tickets for sale. Traffic was sparse near the backroads of the stadium, he recounted, but cars were pulling up asking about tickets. Shoemo said Terrell approached him and his middle-aged business partner, calling them “boys,” and telling them they couldn’t be selling tickets in that area. They agreed to leave.

A short while later, Shoemo returned, trying to cross the road toward another set of parking lots. He said Terrell approached and began cursing at them. Shoemo said he asked to speak with the officer’s supervisor.

That’s when Terrell “flipped,” Shoemo said, wrenching his arm behind his back and pushing him back in the direction of Terrell’s superior. Once he was in front of the sergeant, Shoemo found him no more sympathetic. Terrell arrested Shoemo for “resisting without violence.”

“What crime was committed or what charge was committed for me to even resist in the first place?” Shoemo said. “Even when he chicken-winged my arm, I didn’t fight it. I didn’t push him off me. I didn’t do anything to make the situation worse because I know, being a minority, what can of worms that’s going to open.”

In Terrell’s police cruiser, Shoemo said he first learned of his pedestrian infraction while watching the officer fill in the police report. On a 90-degree day, Terrell rolled up the windows and cut the AC off in the back as he transported him — the long way — to the pre-trial detention facility, Shoemo said. He ended up having to spend the night in jail.

The charges were dropped after Shoemo hired a lawyer. He filed an Internal Affairs report and offered witnesses, but the Sheriff’s Office declined to open an investigation.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office did not respond to a request for comment on the specific claims made by Shoemo.

Michael Anderson

  • 29 years old
  • State worker
  • Ticketed on 4/15/17 for walking in the roadway
  • Ticket dismissed

Michael Anderson was enjoying some vacation from work when he visited his mother’s house on Jacksonville’s East side. She asked him to go to the store to pick up some items. His mother lives about two blocks from the neighborhood corner store. Anderson said he noticed police as he was walking to the store, but paid them no mind. As soon as he crossed the street, he said the officers immediately pulled up and asked for I.D.

They said it was because he didn’t look familiar to the area. When Anderson questioned why he was being stopped, one of the three officers told him they could write him a ticket for jaywalking, Anderson said. Anderson told the police, “You’re just fucking with me for no reason.”

Unprompted, Anderson said, an officer reached for his pockets to search him.

“He didn’t ask for permission or nothing, that’s why I pushed his hand away,” Anderson said. The officer then told Anderson he was “resisting” and that by pushing the officer’s hand away he could be charged with battery on a law enforcement officer. Anderson described the officer who reached for his pockets as a short white man who then asked why he was giving them “so much attitude.”

“I said, ‘Why are You all bothering me? You’re only harassing me because I’m a black male, with dreads in this high crime area. If you check my I.D. you’ll see I grew up in this area.” The officers ran his name and didn’t find anything of interest, Anderson said. One of the officers, Anderson recalled, asked why he felt he could talk to “police like that.”

“I said, ‘Why police got to be assholes and stereotyping?” When the shorter officer gave him back his I.D., Anderson said the two exchanged looks.

“He said, ‘Oh, you act like someone is supposed to be scared of a 30-year-old punk like you,’” Anderson said. Anderson responded by saying, “One day when you ain’t in that uniform.” The officer asked if Anderson was threatening him. Anderson said he just repeated his statement.

“He said, ‘Well, you can have a nice day, nigger,’” Anderson recalled. “And I said, ‘You can, too, cracker,’ and I walked off.”

Anderson said all three officers who stopped him were white. Anderson said he doesn’t remember the name of the officer who reached for his pocket and called him a nigger. But the officer who wrote him the ticket was Steven D. Vereen.

Anderson contested the ticket and none of the officers showed up for court. The ticket was dismissed.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office did not respond to a request for comment on the specific claims made by Anderson.

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