The Sheriff’s Office is investigating a shooting incident involving a Key Colony Beach police officer who discharged his firearm after having his hand caught in the door of a vehicle during a traffic stop. (There were no injuries as a result of the firearm being discharged.)
The KCB Officer, Charles Griffith, was acting as a backup officer on a traffic stop conducted by Sheriff’s Deputy Jose Hernandez just before 7 a.m. at the 61 mile marker of the highway on Duck Key. Deputy Hernandez initially stopped the 1996 Chevrolet because it had a headlight out, the tag light out. In addition, the license tag was obscured by dirt and was unreadable. The car was driven by 39 year old Jerrett Bryan. Bryan has a current address in Miami but is a previous long-time resident of the middle Keys and has recently returned to the Keys to work construction.
During the traffic stop, Deputy Hernandez detected the odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle and called for backup. Key Colony Beach Officers Griffith and Jeff Rodriguez responded. A check on Bryan’s name revealed he had a suspended driver’s license and was on probation for drug charges.
According to Sheriff’s reports Bryan was asked to exit the vehicle so officers could investigate the marijuana odor further. He reportedly refused and attempted to roll up his window. The officers stopped him from rolling up the window and opened the car door to remove Bryan from inside. Officer Griffith had his hand on the doorpost, with his fingers inside the car’s door. Bryan, who was still inside the vehicle, reportedly slammed the door on the officer’s fingers. Griffith was treated at the hospital for injuries to his hand.
Officer Griffith managed to extract his hand from the door after which he pulled his weapon and fired once at the driver’s side door, shattering the window, but not hitting Bryan. Bryan then fled the scene in the vehicle.
Deputy Hernandez jumped into a patrol vehicle, pursuing Bryan. Bryan was caught a short distance away and was arrested. Charges against Bryan include resisting arrest, fleeing and eluding police, aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer and driving with a suspended driver’s license, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of drug paraphernalia. Investigation revealed Bryan was in possession of 65 grams of marijuana and 33 vials of Hash oil, along with a number of items of drug paraphernalia.
Key Colony Police Chief Kris DiGiovanni has requested the Sheriff’s Office investigate the discharge of the firearm by his officer. The Sheriff’s Internal Affairs office will be conducting a Use of Force investigation to determine if the discharge of the firearm was justified under the circumstances.