LONGBOAT KEY, Fla. (WFLA) — A Bradenton man who tried to run away from police ended up having to be rescued after he jumped in the water.
At 2:34 a.m. on Monday, Daniel Griffiths told police he needed to meet his friends on the beach. Once the patrolling officer told him the beach is closed from 11 p.m. until 5 a.m., Griffiths ran away.
“When this happens it certainly causes one to believe there is something else going on. This was an adult, not a child and his behavior was suspicious at the very least,” said Longboat Police Chief Pete Cumming.
A short time later, Griffiths was spotted again on a suspected stolen bike on Gulf of Mexico Drive.
Officers told him to stop several times. Eventually, Griffiths looked at the officer and then plunged into the water off of Longboat Pass bridge.
“Once he entered the water he swam under docks and through mangroves and things like that to try and get away. I don’t know how he did it for that long without needing assistance,” Cumming said.
For an hour and a half, several officers tried to tell Griffiths to get out of the water, and then police say Griffiths became forceful.
“He attempted to pull my officer into the water which creates a whole other set of problems. A policeman with all of his equipment on and so forth makes it that much more difficult to swim and if he’s going to be wrestling with a suspect in the water it puts us at a huge disadvantage,” said Cumming.
Shortly after that, Griffiths got caught in a strong current.
“The current is notorious for putting people at risk. It’s a very strong current. It takes an individual through the pass and out into the gulf in a matter of minutes,” said Cumming.
Police officers, the fire department and even the coast guard stepped in to help.
“I applaud their efforts and they probably saved this man’s life,” said Cumming.
After Griffiths was rescued, he went from his free boat ride to his free ride to jail.
“This whole event could have been totally avoided if he would have stopped and talked to my officer when he was approached or if he would have just stayed home,” Cumming said.
Griffiths was on probation for a grand theft charge and officers believe he was trying to dodge them so he wouldn’t violate his probation.
Now he faces a new charge for resisting an officer. More charges are likely if officers can prove he was on a stolen bike.
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