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Gospel singer gets out of traffic ticket thanks to his golden voice

When gospel singer T.J. Bristol was busted for not wearing a seatbelt earlier this week, he decided he'd try to go out on a high note.

After Cpl. Virginia Ricks and Deputy Margaret Hoagland with the Orange County Sheriff's Office stopped Bristol near Orlando, Florida, on Sunday, they asked him what he did for a living.

Bristol, 36, who has been a nationally-known gospel artist for four years, told them about his job.

"(Ricks) said, 'Well, sing me a song,''' Bristol told TODAY.com. "I said, 'If I sing, can you let me off with a warning?' She said, 'Depends on how well you sing.'"

"I give warnings often on my traffic stops, but have never actually had someone sing to me the way T.J. did,'' Ricks told TODAY.com. "I did not let T.J. off because he sang I let him off with a warning just out of discretion alone, the singing was just an added bonus."

Bristol belted out the Joe Cocker hit "You Are So Beautiful," while filming the exchange with a selfie stick.

He got off with a warning.

"I guess she enjoyed the song," Bristol said, who asked Ricks if he could film the encounter beforehand.

"His attitude was contagious from the moment I pulled him over,'' Ricks said. "His voice almost brought me to tears when he did sing for me!"

"I knew it would be pretty funny. I love to make people smile," he added. "Plus I knew if I just told people, they wouldn't believe me, so now the world could see it and know you can sing your way out of a ticket."

The encounter happened just two days before the five-year anniversary of the death of Ricks' husband.

Deputy Brandon Coates of the Orange County Sheriff's Office died at 27 years old in 2010 when he was shot and killed during a traffic stop in one of Orange County's most dangerous areas.

"With the story about her husband's anniversary, it almost felt like her husband was singing through me and letter her know from heaven that she is still beautiful in his eyes,'' Bristol said. "He was telling her that he still loved her."

"If I am still doing the job five years after my husband was murdered than it should show how important this job is to me and what it means,'' Ricks said. "People like T.J. and their voice remind you of that every now and then."

Ricks was thankful for Bristol's "therapeutic" gesture, writing on the Sheriff's Office Facebook page she wanted everyone to know "[Coates'] wife is out there every day, with a smile and still 'making a difference' despite everything going on!"

Bristol, who sings regularly at the Sanctuary of Praise and Destiny Christian Center megachurches in the Orlando area, was just happy to bring a smile with his impromptu performance.

"With all the stuff going on in the world today about cops, it's really showing that not all cops are bad and not all people are bad,'' he said.

"The best part of it all is the many messages I have received telling me my one encounter alone has helped many restore their faith and trust in law enforcement among the urban and black communities,'' Ricks said. "I think that is great, and want people to know the majority of law enforcement officers are just like me. I treated T.J. no different than I treat anyone I encounter out there. He just happened to leave an impact on me he never knew, and he reminded me at a time that is very difficult for me, as to why I still do the job I do."

Bristol also wants to stress to obey the law.

"Click it or ticket,'' he said. "Or have a good song to sing."

Follow TODAY.com writer Scott Stump on Twitter.

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