People in Sperry want answers after a 78-year-old man said he ended up in the hospital after a police officer treated him roughly and pepper sprayed him during a traffic stop.
Charles Griffith and his wife were on their way home from church Wednesday night when they said a Sperry police officer pulled him over.
They said what happened next landed him in the hospital. On Thursday night, he was at Sperry's city hall to tell city council members his story.
Holding back tears, Griffith explained how he said he ended up being pepper sprayed, bloodied and humiliated. He and his wife Joy were among dozens who packed into Sperry's city hall Thursday to tell town leaders what happened the night before.
"I never been in trouble before or nothing," Griffith said.
That changed after he was coming home from church Wednesday night. He said a Sperry police officer pulled him over for driving on the wrong side of the street. Griffith said he got out of the car to wait.
"He come up there and said, ‘get back in the car,' and I did. He wanted to see my driver's license and he just started saying he was going to take me to jail and this kind of stuff. I hadn't did anything wrong," said Griffith.
He said since he has health issues with his legs, he tried to extend them out of the car to stand up.
"Then he told me sit back down, and then he tried to get me up, twisted my arm," Griffith said.
He said that's when the officer put his wife in danger.
"She was sitting in the car when they pepper sprayed me, and I was afraid they were going to get her," he said.
Joy said, "Yeah, they sprayed me in the face when I was still sitting in the car."
Griffith said the officer yanked him up by the shirt and he ended up bruised and bloody.
After going to the hospital to be checked out, he, his wife and Sperry residents packed into city hall, hoping to talk to city leaders, but they couldn't hold an official meeting because the mayor had open heart surgery last week.
"I don't want to have any hard feelings or anything, anybody get in trouble. Just like to stop this from happening anymore to anybody," said Joy.
Sperry's police Chief Mike Smith, told News On 6, "The officer stopped this individual, but this individual may not have been as compliant as everyone thinks he was."
The officer's report will go to the DA's office. He is on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.
The chief also added that Griffith has not filed a complaint with the department, but police are looking into the public's complaints.
The officer has only been with the police department for a few months.