A Florida cop who became internet famous in a viral video showing him slapping a camera out of the hands of a disabled veteran who had parked in a handicapped spot was acquitted of battery Wednesday.
But Riviera Beach Police Sergeant Garry Wilson was convicted of criminal mischief for the incident that left the veteran’s phone with a cracked screen. He was sentenced to six months probation.
The incident occurred on August 9 after Isiah James had parked his car in a handicap stop and went into Walgreens to make a purchase.
James, who has served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, leaving him with internal injuries as well as leg and ankle injuries, had a disabled parking sticker on his car.
But because he was not in a wheelchair, Wilson, who racked up at least 29 complaints against him in two decades, accused him of fraudulently using the sticker.
“You don’t get to decide,” James told him. “When I got blown up for my fucking country, eight times because of a damn IED, I was in a fucking coma for two months.”
“Just because I don’t look handicapped, you don’t look well enough to be a fucking officer with your gut hanging over your stomach. I didn’t say shit to you.”
Sergeant Wilson called for backup and continued to run the vehicle to determine if it was illegal even without suspicion that a crime had occurred, detaining James for almost 15 minutes.
Wilson could have received 60 days in jail for the criminal mischief conviction. And his six month sentence can be lowered to three months at some point in the future.
The judge withheld adjudication for Wilson, meaning he will not have a misdemeanor charge on his record as a result.
The judge also sentenced him to four hours of anger management as well as to repay James for damages to his phone. Wilson was also ordered to not have contact with James.
Wilson testified that he lost his “composure” during the incident, but felt threatened by James’ phone, which is why he knocked it out of his hands.
Testifying Wednesday in his trial on battery and criminal mischief charges, Riviera Beach Police Sgt. Garry Wilson said he lost his “composure” during an encounter last August with disabled U.S. Army veteran Isiah James over a parking space.
But Wilson said he felt threatened when the 6-foot-7, 300-pound James approached him while holding an iPhone and angrily mouthing profanities — so he knocked the device out of James’ hand.
“I never touched him,” Wilson, 48, told the jury, which a few times watched a video of the confrontation that James recorded on the phone. “He violated my personal space.”
But the video shows it was Wilson walking towards James as the veteran continued to record. Not the other way around.
After the incident, James made a claim with the Riviera Beach Police Department to replace his damaged phone and file a complaint, however they refused to take his complaint.