Black jogger matching suspect description is detained, released, and offered a police job
28-year-old Joseph Griffin, a black nurse, was jogging when he was stopped by police last month.
Deputies immediately told Griffin that he wasn’t in trouble but that they wanted to make sure he wasn’t a burglary suspect they were looking for, as he matched the description:
“You’re not in any trouble or anything. There was a burglary that happened, you kind of fit the description. Let me just make sure you’re not him, OK,” an officer told Griffin.
The full video from the officer’s body camera shows the officer’s approach, conversation and departure.
The last minute of the video shows the actual suspect, not Griffin, being arrested.
WTSP, also known as local television news channel 10 Tampa Bay, told David Harris staff that the bodycam footage it obtained was verified by the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.
“I’m gonna detain you. Look, you’re not under arrest. I’m detaining you right now because you fit the description,” a deputy told Griffin as his hands were cuffed behind his back.
Griffin then started a Facebook live to capture anything that took place during the dialogue with police. Griffin told the officer: “I just had a daughter born two days ago, so just have this on Live.”
While being handcuffed, Griffin told those who were watching: “If something happens to me, y’all better raise Hell.”
Griffin showed no resistance and the officers showed no excessive force. Still, Griffin told Orlando’s Fox 35 that his experience was unnerving.
“Witnesses’ descriptions are never perfect, and it is very scary when your future is in the hands of that nonperfect identification and description,” he said. “When you see your neighbor get pulled over and talk to the cops, perception is reality at that point, and you’re gonna automatically assume that they’re doing something.”
Griffin was a military police in the U.S. Army and was offered a job with the same police department who detained him. His experience in law enforcement made him a solid candidate off the bat.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood acknowledged how both parties were cooperative and professional during the interaction. The sheriff also announced that Griffin will be participating in implicit bias training with the department.
“Joseph Griffin is going to come out and join us during implicit bias training, and tell this story from his perspective,” Chitwood tweeted. “I think we can all learn from his point of view, just like he has listened to ours. Mr. Griffin is a military veteran and a medical professional, and I told him we’d train and hire him as a deputy in a second if he ever wants a new job.”
Chitwood added that he is proud of the way his deputies handled the situation.
“Granted, nothing like Facebook Live existed when I was starting out, but I don’t know if a young Mike Chitwood would have kept a live video running for somebody I was detaining,” the sheriff explained. “These guys did it because, in that moment, they understood what it meant to Mr. Griffin, who was going out of his way to be cooperative and respectful.”
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