LONGBOAT KEY (FOX 13) - Police officers are there to serve and protect, even when people don't want their help. That was the case for one guy who nearly drowned trying to get away from law enforcement.
The man caught an officer's attention around 2:30 Monday morning as he walked near the North Shore beach access on Longboat Key.
"It was probably a bad decision on his part to go walking through neighborhoods at 2:30 in the morning, but it's a free country. All we want to do is know our citizens are safe here," said Chief Pete Cumming.
Chief Pete Cumming said the man, Daniel Griffiths said he was going to meet friends, but the beach was long closed and something seemed suspicious. Before the officer could ask any more questions, Griffiths took off.
"We pursued him and lost him for a few minutes," said Chief Cummings.
Officers saw Griffiths on a bike headed towards the Longboat Pass bridge. As they approached him, he jumped.
"At that point, this individual was floating in the current essentially," said Chief Cumming.
For an hour and a half, he swam from piling to piling. Longboat Key Fire Rescue was called out to help.
"They were trying to communicate with him and he was just ignoring them and swimming away from them," said Deputy Chief Chris Krajac.
Officers continued to try to pull him from the water, but Griffiths refused.
"He tried to pull my officer into the water and then he fell back into the current again," said Chief Cumming.
Griffiths began drifting out of the pass and into the Gulf.
"He probably became tired and lost contact with the pilings and fender system and he drifted out into the pass," said Deputy Chief Krajac.
After a long struggle, Griffiths gave up and allowed the Coast Guard to pick him up.
"Had he given a reason for being there and just communicated that to my officer, I'm sure he would have went home that night," said Chief Cumming.
Officers learned Griffiths was on probation for theft and dealing in stolen property. EMS checked Griffiths out. He was treated for a few scratches and then taken directly to jail.
"The trouble he is in now is the trouble he caused himself," said Chief Cumming.
Griffiths was charged with obstruction and is in the Manatee County Jail on a $5,000 bond.