State Attorney's Office opens investigation after mother accuses Jupiter police of excessive force

JUPITER, Fla. -- The Public Corruption Unit of the Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office has opened an investigation after a Tequesta mother accused the Jupiter Police Department of using excessive force on her son.

Cody Ross Blankenship was arrested on trespassing and other charges on June 6th after Charlene Freeman, his mother, said he had gone fishing near Sawfish Bay Park in the 1100 block of Alternate A1A.

"It was after midnight and he got his fishing line wrapped around a dock which was someone's personal dock, he walked over there to undo the fishing line, and the owner of the dock said he'd called the police," Freeman said. "So, my son panicked, and was scared and he ran."

According to a probable cause affidavit, a homeowner called the police department after he saw Blankenship near his dock.

Blankenship didn't stop when officers asked him to, the affidavit said, and resisted when officers tried to arrest him.

"It was one or two officers beating him in the head as the other two had their knees in his back," Freeman said. "The last thing he remembers doing is screaming, and yelling and crying, going, 'Please stop, I'm not resisting. Please stop, I'm not resisting.' "

According to the affidavit, Blankenship reached for what officers said appeared to be a syringe.

Freeman said it was hand sanitizer.

The affidavit does not indicate whether officers recovered a syringe from Blankenship.

One officer is said to have struck him five times, including once in the head.

Blankenship has a history of arrests, run-ins with law enforcement and substance abuse problems, Freeman said.

"We're all human. We all make mistakes. Even if this was not my son, I would fight for someone I didn't know, because it is absolutely excessive force from law enforcement," Freeman said. "I don't see his soul anymore ... as bad as his face is beaten his soul is, too. It's unjust."

Sgt. Scott Pascarella, a spokesperson for the Jupiter Police Department, said an investigation into the use of force had been opened by the department -- a standard practice.

Pascarella said officers were trained in the use of force and could use force "consistent with the level of resistance."

Though not detailed in the affidavit, the officer involved in the struggle with Blankenship was placed on medical leave, Pascarella said.

Pascarella was not aware of the nature of the officer's injuries or how long the officer would be on leave.

Blankenship has been charged with trespassing, battery on an officer, firefighter or EMT, resisting or obstructing an officer without violence and resisting an officer with violence.

Freeman said she intended to sue the police department.

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