Man praises deputy’s actions, hopes to change tone of national dialogue

KINGSTON (WATE) – There’s been a lot of attention lately on race relations and protests across the country. In the middle of that, one man is trying to trying to change perceptions.

One man’s Facebook post thanks a sheriff’s deputy, calling him the “nicest and kindest” officer.

Al-Hassan Darboe is an immigrant from West Africa. At the time the picture was taken, he was a cab driver who had a flat tire while on a trip out of town, and had no idea what to do. The picture shows Roane County Deputy Kyle Canup changing Darboe’s tire.

“All of a sudden this cop slowed down and he said, ‘How can I help you?’ We said we have a flat tire. I don’t know how to change a flat tire,” Darboe explained.

He says Deputy Canup got under his car that hot day, getting himself dirty in the process.

“The tire was underneath his vehicle, so I had to get it out and got under the car. I had a lot of black tar on my hands,” Deputy Kyle Canup said.

It was an act of kindness Darboe never forgot.

“I’ve had this picture for two years,” Darboe said.

“I could tell they didn’t have much experience changing a tire,” explained Deputy Canup. “I just did what I would have done with anyone that needed help.”

Recently, Darboe stumbled on the photos from that day and felt compelled to post them, in gratitude, and to send a message.

“With everything going on across the country, Black Lives Matter and protests across the country, so many black people are mad about the treatment of young black people. It’s easy for people to think that all cops do is go after young black people and kill them. My encounter with Kyle has changed my perception of police officers in America in general. I don’t see officers as a threat to me. I see them as my friends,” Darboe said.

“It’s neat. I didn’t do it to be on the internet or news. But it’s nice to see people respond to it. It’s not just me. It’s all the guys I work with. All the officers in our community,” Deputy Canup said.

Darboe is a Muslim and says many of the people who helped him succeed in America have been Caucasian-Christian families. So with some of the negative dialogue going on right now, he wanted us to focus on the positive and welcoming reception he’s been given.

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