Outcry across the country over police brutality led a 10-year veteran police officer in Winchester, Tennessee, to announce his resignation this past week in a video posted on social media, citing an increasingly negative view of law enforcement.
"I just can't take it anymore," Winchester police Officer Dustin Elliott said in his video statement as he sat in full uniform and sunglasses in his patrol car.
His video comes amid a worldwide protest movement in response to the case of George Floyd, an African American man who died in handcuffs when a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes on May 25.
Officers in Elliott's own department were also criticized when a suspect drowned in Boiling Fork Creek while they stood on the bank and did not come to his aid on June 4. It's not clear whether Elliott had any connection to the incident.
Elliott's Facebook post has been shared more than 6,700 times and sparked over 2,600 comments. The overwhelming majority of them are supportive.
"Thank you so much for your service and protecting the people!" Rebecca Frantzen of Saginaw, Texas, posted. "I have much respect for cops, and I sorry that this world has gotten to this."
A few people were more critical in their comments, calling the video a "pity party"or worse.
"This cop was probably one of the good ones, but his worries and concerns sound familiar," Cedric B Cooper-Thompson of Atoka, Tennessee, posted. "He should've had a conversation with a black mom about how she keeps her child safe. While he can just abandon his uniform and the safety of his family is secured, people like me can't abandon their skin color. In my opinion, every cop needs to feel this. I don't feel bad for him."
Elliott didn't respond to a request Friday for additional comment.
"We all need to understand where law enforcement is and the crusade against us that is weighing on every officers' heart in America right now," Elliott said in the video statement.
"It's devastating to be a police officer right now and to know what's going on and how people feel about you and the things that you do in this job and the sacrifices you make," he said. "There's a lot that would rather see you dead just because of the uniform you wear."
He said his decision to resign was "really hard."
"I put in my notice, and this is the end of me being a cop. After 10 years, I just can't take it anymore. I'm done with it," he said.
On Friday, Winchester police Chief Richard Lewis said Elliott "has been a fine police officer."
"I couldn't ask for anybody to be any better. I know his family, and I know his kids, and I hope he does well," Lewis said. "I wish him well going forward."
Elliott had something more to say to the public in his video.
"It's been one of the best decisions I ever made was getting into law enforcement, but there's a lot that goes along with it that y'all don't know about, and that's what I'm going to tell you about today," he said.
Elliott becomes emotional when he talks about the sacrifices his wife and family have made.
"Being married to a cop is probably one of the hardest jobs in the world," he said, emotion filling his voice as blue jays call in the background of the video.
"You don't know the torment they go through wondering if their loved one's going to come home or today's going to be the day they're going to have to tell their kids that dad isn't coming home or their mother isn't coming home and they're going to have to live without them.
"They hear all the negative things that are said about police officers in general and it scares them," he said. "They don't know if somebody's going to come by their house and kill them. They don't know if when they're out in public shopping, just getting your groceries, that somebody's going to attack them — attack your family, just because you are a cop."
Elliott said his daughter came home from kindergarten crying and explaining the children "hated me because I was white and a police officer."
"That hurts because you don't know how to tell a child that's in kindergarten that people don't, they just don't care. What else do you tell them? I don't know," he said.
Elliott said his work experiences as a police officer come back to him in nightmares about his family, and worries linger into his family life because "the human mind is not meant to see the things that we see, and some of us see it on a daily basis, some of us don't," he said, noting big city police officers see more, but rural officers see a "fair share."
"It's hard," Elliott said. "They tell you not to take the job home with you but you still take it home with you, you can't just shut it off. You can't not think about it."
That's a burden that lands on his family because he can't forget what he sees on the job, he said.
"I have made it hard on my wife and my kids, on my father and my mother and the rest of my family, for 10 years because I haven't been able to go out in the real world and have fun the way that the rest of the world does, because I worry constantly about what could happen," he said.
Elliott said what officers see in their jobs, even in rural communities, haunts them and it carries over into being overly concerned about their family's daily life.
"I can't take my kids out on the water on a boat because I'm constantly scared that something's going to happen; they're going to fall off, they're going to drown, the boat's going to catch on fire, just anything," he said. "I worry about them when they go away with their grandparents whether or not they're going to make it to the house or whether they're going to be involved in a fatal wreck."
Elliott recognizes those are also worries for most parents, Elliott said, but for him and many officers it's a constant worry that causes nightmares that wake him "five or six times a night to go check on your kids because you've had bad nightmares and you want to make sure they're both still alive and that something didn't happen to them while they were asleep."
"It takes its toll on you," he said.
"At some point you say it's enough, and I'm at that point," he said closing his video statement, "I've hit 'enough.'"
Contact Ben Benton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.