Calvin Mathews, a state health inspector for the Minnesota Department of Health, met Sgt. Justin Pletcher on May 27 -- two days after George Floyd's death.
Mathews told "Good Morning America" he made a non-emergency call to the police while inspecting a mobile home park.
"I said, 'Hey sir, I wanted to call and let you know I am an inspector just in case a citizen calls and says some strange black man is walking around,'" Mathews recalled. "He said, 'I'm sorry you even feel the need to tell me this.'"
Pletcher, 39, of the Columbia Heights Police Department, said he took Mathews' call.
"He said, 'I'm a big black guy with dreads' and he didn't want it to become an issue," Pletcher explained. "I said, 'Hey man, I get it. It won't become an issue, but if someone calls, I'll squash it.'"
Pletcher met Mathews in the small city of Hilltop after Mathews asked if the sergeant could come check his credentials in case someone called dispatch.
Pletcher soon noticed Mathews' Omega Psi Phi bracelet that he was wearing, which is the same black fraternity Pletcher's college roommate belonged to.
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After learning they had a mutual friend, Pletcher and Mathews spent an hour walking the neighborhood together.
"If you look like me and you run into police, you don't know who you're going to get," Mathews said. "He agreed to walk around with me during my inspection and we talked."
Pletcher said he and Mathews had a lot in common.
"We like to travel and we both love [musical artist] Prince," Pletcher added. "[We] both have biracial children."
Pletcher and Mathews snapped a photo together and shared it on Facebook along with a story of their meeting. The post garnered 218,000 shares.
"I honestly think people need to see there's some type of hope out there," Mathews said of the viral moment. "The fact is, none of my other coworkers would've thought, 'let me call the police,' and that's the definition of privilege."
He added, "I'm 49 years old. I have dreads. I've never smoked. I've been to prison 22 times but to inspect, not as an occupant. I think it all comes down to fear. People are afraid of something they saw on TV. It's just ridiculous."
Mathews said he'd like to see police reform.
"Several officers I know said nowhere in the book of training did it say to put their knee on that man's neck," Mathews said. "Maybe there needs to be a time limit [for police working] on and off the streets. Maybe there should be mandated counseling."
"There's tons of good officers," he continued. "Something needs to happen with these bad officers."
Following Floyd's death, demonstrations began in Minnesota. Pletcher said his neighborhood was destroyed and looting was common.
"I'm not angry about the rioting, I'm angry that's what had to be resorted to until people listened," he said. "I'm angry about systematic racism, I'm angry about inequality. It won't change unless we do something and that's policing."
He went on, "The thin blue line, the very idea of a line suggests segregation and if I'm not on the same side of my community, I'm failing them, I'm failing this badge -- any officer that disagrees with me needs to think about doing something else."