DELTONA, Fla. – Body camera video showed Volusia County Deputies stopping 28-year-old Joseph Griffin during his afternoon jog last week as they searched for a lawn equipment burglar who had a similar description, according to a witness.
“African American male, with a white tank top and black shorts, initially,” said Joseph Griffin. “Of course, it was pretty scary. I didn’t know what was going on at first when he approached me.”
Griffin started a Facebook Live video as one deputy put him in handcuffs.
“I figured if there were eyes on, then nothing bad would have happened,” he said.
In the video, the deputy told Griffin that he was not under arrest but was being detained because he fit the description. Another deputy held Griffin’s phone so it could still record.
“We’ll take care of you buddy, promise not going to let anything happen,” a deputy said.
The father of two said it took about 15 minutes before authorities cleared and released him. He said they also apologized for the inconvenience and thanked him for being understanding and respectful.
“This is one of the best examples that I’ve seen as far as civilians being compliant and officers actually trying to assure the civilians that we’re not out to get you,” said Griffin.
Sheriff Mike Chitwood said the stop was a teachable moment for everyone. He told News 6 that he invited Griffin, a former military officer, to attend an implicit bias training class to share his experience with law enforcement.
“The way we stopped Mr. Griffin is the way we would have stopped a white guy, a Black guy, a Hispanic guy or a purple guy,” Chitwood said. “Nobody is saying that anybody did anything wrong, but there is a way here to look at life from both sides of the coin.”
Griffin said remaining calm is what he believed helped keep the interaction under control
“No one will say you’re wrong for being frustrated because it’s scary and frustrating. But, I will say if you remain calm, at least 85% of the time the situation will go your way,” he said. “Yes, the officer has authority, but in the end, you have control.”