JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Pastor Darien Bolden, 47, is no stranger to Springfield. He grew up in the Jacksonville neighborhood.
"This is the house I grew up in," Bolden said. "I knew everybody on this block."
He has driven its streets a countless number of times over the years, but Sunday, July 23 was a different experience.
Bolden said he and his nephew were looking at a house for sale on West 19th as an investment property when a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office officer pulled him over.
"He pulls up and lights me up," Bolden said.
The JSO officer told him he was pulled over because the tint on his Mercedes windows were too dark. However, during the stop, Bolden alleges the officer pulled a gun on him.
"It is traumatizing to just think about what happened," he said.
The Baptist General Conference and the Northside Coalition called a town hall to address problems with JSO and what happened with Reverend Bolden.
Bolden alleges that he told the officer he held a concealed weapon permit and there was a weapon in his car.
"I turned only to be faced with the barrel of a 9mm gun,” he said. “If I meant the officer any harm, I would have never told the officer I had a weapon in my car.”
He said even though it has been days, he is still traumatized by the alleged incident.
"The only thing I could think of was Philando Castile," Bolden said. "He got killed for the same reason."
About 75 to 100 people attended the town hall to hear what happened to Bolden. Many shared their experiences with JSO.
Pastor James Sampson said what happened to a prominent citizen like Pastor Bolden is just one more reason why JSO has to change.
"The culture and the climate of JSO has to change," Sampson said. "This is just the beginning."
Council member, Reginald Gaffney, Katrina Brown and Reginald Brown were on hand. Reginald Brown said it is time for JSO to take its rank and file through sensitivity training.
Bolden said he not only wants to see change, but he also wants an apology.
"I haven't heard from the Sheriff," he said. "I was told he was going to call. I haven't heard from him."
Ironically, he said he had a meeting with Sheriff Mike Williams a few weeks ago to talk about improving police relations with the black community.
JSO Spokesperson Lauri Ellen Smith provided the following statement:
"Representatives of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office have been in touch with Rev. Dr. Bolden, to discuss last week's event and his concerns and allegations. This matter will be thoroughly investigated by the JSO."
She said because it is now an active investigation, they cannot discuss the incident any further.
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