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After innocent man detained by deputies, sheriff asks him to help with bias training

3 years 8 months 1 week ago Tuesday, September 08 2020 Sep 8, 2020 September 08, 2020 6:00 PM September 08, 2020 in News
Source: ABC News

DELTONA, Fla. - An innocent Black man who was detained by deputies because he matched the description of a suspected burglar is now going to help the department implement bias training.

Joseph Griffin was out jogging last month when deputies with the Volusia County Sheriff's Office stopped him. Body camera video showed the deputies questioning Griffin over a recent burglary that happened nearby.

The officers apologized to Griffin, who was livestreaming the exchange, and said they had to place him in handcuffs while they checked surveillance video to ensure he wasn't the suspect. One of the deputies volunteered to hold his phone and continue the stream while he was in cuffs.

"Seven cop cars [are here], and I was just jogging down the street," Griffin said at one point.

"But we don't know that for sure, you know? You gotta see it through our eyes," said one deputy.

Officers thanked Griffin for being cooperative.

"I'm trying not to get shot over this," Griffin said with a nervous laugh.

"Me neither," the deputy appears to say on the video. "I know things are going on... I'm right there with you."

The group went on to further discuss the tense state of the country. Griffin told officers he was a military veteran and was released after they confirmed he wasn't the burglar.

"Everyone's a little on edge right now, so I just want to say thank you," another deputy told Griffin after he was released. "Not everyone is that understanding and respectful."

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood posted the body camera video on social media and thanked both the deputies and Griffin for how they handled themselves.

"We detained a guy who was just out jogging, but who unfortunately fit the initial suspect description," Chitwood wrote. "I just want to say how proud I am of the deputies who handled this call. 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. 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. Everyone involved in this deserves recognition for a job well done."

Chitwood has since invited Griffin to assist the department in its training.

"Joseph Griffin is going to come out and join us during implicit bias training, and tell this story from his perspective. I think we can all learn from his point of view, just like he has listened to ours," he wrote. "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 said deputies were later able to identify and arrest the suspect they were looking for.

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