Black jogger cuffed for matching description to share experience for Fla. police bias training

DELTONA, Fla. (WKMG) - An African American man stopped by deputies while jogging in Florida is set to share his experience during a law enforcement training course on implicit bias.

It comes at a time when police are under pressure to address issues of systemic racism in law enforcement.

The stop was recorded on police body cam and Facebook Live. It was a case of mistaken identity, but it went smoothly and ended peacefully, with the jogger set free.

“Can I see your ID? Yeah, literally they said white tank top, black shorts, and they said you had a beard. I’m not saying it’s you,” one officer said during the stop.

“Of course, it was pretty scary. I didn’t know what was going on at first when he approached me,” Joseph Griffin said.

Deputies stopped the 28-year-old during his afternoon jog, searching for a lawn equipment thief who had a similar description, according to a witness.

“African American male, with a white tank top and black shorts,” Griffin said.

He went live on Facebook as the deputy puts him in handcuffs. “I figured if there were eyes on, then nothing bad would have happened,” he said.

“You’re not under arrest. I’m detaining you right now because you fit the description, OK,” the officer said.

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,” the officer said.

The father of two says it took about 15 minutes before deputies cleared and released him. He said they also apologized for the inconvenience.

“Just want to say thank you. Not everybody is that understanding and respectful,” a deputy said.

“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,” Griffin said.

“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, and there’s body camera video out there,” Sheriff Mike Chitwood said.

The sheriff said the stop is a teachable moment and invited Griffin, a former military officer, to attend an implicit bias training class to share his experience with law enforcement.

“Nobody is saying that anybody did anything wrong, but there is a way here to look at life from both sides of the coin,” Chitwood said.

“And thank you for officer Estrada here, who told me from the get go, ‘Hey, I’m not going to let anything happen to you,’” Griffin said. “I will say if you remain calm, at least 85 percent of the time the situation will go your way. Yes, the officer has authority, but in the end, you have control.”

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