Veteran to Officer: You Don’t Decide If I Am Disabled


By Amanda Warren

Should an officer be allowed to check on someone’s disability status? Sure, but is it up to him to investigate that person’s actual physical capabilities and whether the citizen deserves a parking spot? Should the citizen be held up, compelled to explain why he can walk – should he have his cell phone broken with no explanation?

Of course not. Whether someone has a disability or can obtain a handicapped parking tag is determined by a different governing body. Once it is, that person deserves to be left in peace. If a person is suspected of using a tag to break the law, then a quick checkup can be merited. But handicapped tags should not be a constant target for the police force. If officers are compelled to make these check-ups often – then they probably would have realized by now, all the many “invisible” disabilities. Think about a few: hearing impaired, autism spectrum, fibromyalgia, recovering surgery….

Regardless, it is outside the realm of duty to try and determine physical ability, personal morality, a person’s self-perception or whether someone is trying to “milk the system.” It is not up to officers to decide that someone is “undeserving” of a handicapped tag, and that it should be reserved for old ladies in wheelchairs who “need it more.” Whereas, a check up could have taken place, instead someone was recently subject to what feels like a sermon.

Florida citizen Isiah James, 28-year-old US Army Veteran probably figured that if he mentioned his service, he might get left alone for having a handicapped parking tag. Unfortunately, because he could walk in a parking lot recently, an officer didn’t feel he looked “disabled enough” and that he was “in the wrong.” Then he mocked the man for mentioning his service. The thing about the law is – no one is supposed to be above it. The ensuing argument became dizzying….

Note: It is never, ever a good idea to start cussing or yelling at a cop. It doesn’t help anyone’s case and can unwittingly escalate a bad situation. While an angry reaction is understandable, it is much better to remain calm.

Incredibly, at around 7 minutes, the officer again attempts to express why he felt the man was not disabled, but goes further to chide the man and seems personally affronted somehow. When Isiah futility tries again to illicit some humanity by mentioning again that he is a “damn, disabled veteran,” – the officer shoots back that it does not make him better than anyone else.

Again the officer says, “You walkin’! You walkin’!” A completely moot point and no reason to hold someone up beyond what normal duties compel.

Another officer showed up and attempted to de-escalate the situation. Again, uncontrollable yelling doesn’t help the situation. The department has opened an internal investigation.

Since there is only one department (and medical doctors) that determine a person’s disability status, it is not up to police or anyone else to further investigate a person’s abilities,  determine morality or attempt to correct their self-perception.

The idea of having to “fake-hobble” or take on a victim stance to appease others that one is not faking a disability to get a better parking spot is equally absurd. This is 2015. Not only are we forced into the peak of political correctness, but we actually have increasing amounts of people on disability – 1 in 5 Americans. Unfortunately for them, they who often cannon even communicate to assert their rights fall to the whims of harassment or worse. How can we change that and uphold civil rights for everyone? Wouldn’t it lessen an officer’s burden if they knew they didn’t have to worry so much about intent during potential non-violent offenses?

One last note: I highly recommend that you read In Sheep’s Clothing. You must know how to handle yourself should you cross paths with overt or covert aggression. The concepts apply to many kinds of people and situations. Stay safe.

Image source: Photography Is Not A Crime

Amanda Warren writes for Activist Postclick here  for her recent stories.

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11 Comments on "Veteran to Officer: You Don’t Decide If I Am Disabled"

  1. John C Carleton | August 11, 2015 at 10:58 am | Reply

    The cop is disabled, mentally.

  2. This bag of shit cop is a total insult to good bags of shit everywhere. I hope he loses his job, but it’s highly unlikely. I am absolutely LOVING the way that video has now leveled the playing field though…..

  3. Monks In Resin | August 11, 2015 at 1:37 pm | Reply

    Good for the vet! that cop should be ashamed – the vet handled it brilliantly

  4. I have an invisible disability and have disabled plate. It is not always about needing assistance to enter a building. many times you can last until you get to a cart for support or if it is a quick stop, as long as you park near, you can be in and out before collapsing. This cop may be destroying this mans limited time to be up and mobile and “look” OK.
    Where did this cop get his medical degree? He must not know much about health just judging by his obvious, self-inflicted, body damage…ie obesity.

  5. The worst of both worlds, anig ger and a cop in the same skinsuit. The cop should be killed. By the appropriate legal authority.

  6. Mr Charrington | August 11, 2015 at 11:50 pm | Reply

    That’s all you see now a days abuse of authority. The man is spot on… the cop doesn’t have the right or qualifications to say whether or not he’s disabled. Loved his come back.. you don’t look like a cop…

  7. As a 30% service connected disabled veteran myself, I’ve been down this road before. I did not have a handicapped placard, but at the time, I had to use crutches to get around. (Long before a disabled person plates could be issued.) I didn’t get into yelling at the local cop like this guy, (“Isaiah”)- I just settled it at city hall. Once they saw my disability certification from the Veteran’s Administration, they tore up the ticket. It was as simple as that. I don’t blame this veteran for his anger over the attitude and suspicion of Officer Wilson. But Officer Wilson should have known better. Isaiah had every right to record the encounter- the Supreme Court has said so. I think the PD owes him a new phone. And Isaiah, thank for your service to our country, brother.

  8. Affirmative action in action.

  9. Your DL number is printed on your placard. The officer can be seen checking his license against what is printed on the placard. Once he determines they match – the ‘stop’ should be terminated. The officer attempts to prolong the stop by calling in his DL number. Once an officer has completed what he stops an individual for, any further attempt to find something else is against the law. It happened in the Sandra Bland case.

    The officer is clearly ignorant of the law – yet they will tell YOU that ignorance of the law is no excuse.


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