A black man was stopped by police while jogging in Florida because he allegedly matched the description of a suspect. He began recording the incident, which turned from a potentially dangerous misunderstanding into a job offer from the sheriff's department, according to WSAV-TV.
Joseph Griffin was jogging through his neighborhood in Deltona last month. He was stopped by sheriff's deputies who were looking for a burglary suspect with the description of a black male with a beard wearing a white tank top and dark-colored shorts — exactly what the bearded Griffin was wearing.
Griffin, a registered nurse, started livestreaming the encounter on his Facebook page in case things went wrong.
"If something happens to me, y'all better raise hell," Griffin said on the livestream, as he was being handcuffed by the deputies.
The deputies assured Griffin he wasn't being arrested, but asked him to allow them to go through the process of checking and clearing him since he fit the description. One of the deputies even offered to hold Griffin's phone and continue recording the stop while Griffin was handcuffed.
Griffin and the deputies had a dialogue acknowledging the fear black people can have when stopped by police, as well as the difficulty faced by law enforcement officers in doing their jobs in such a tense environment. From the Daily Wire:
He keeps calm and tells the deputies, "With everything going on, it's just a little bit scary."
"See it through our eyes," one deputy says, and later adds: "We appreciate you being very cooperative."
"I'm not trying to get shot over this," Griffin says with a smile before laughing.
"Let's avoid that race card cuz' it ain't here, I promise you that," the deputy says.
The encounter ended after about 13 minutes, when deputies brought the witness to the scene and confirmed that Griffin was not the burglary suspect. The deputies released Griffin, thanked him for his cooperation, and apologized for inconveniencing him with the stop.
Griffin did not want to attack the Volusia County Sheriff's office after the stop, but hoped that his experience could be beneficial to others about the reality of profiling and how to respond to it.
"I don't want this to be a bashing of the sheriff's office, I want it to be an enlightening thing. Anybody can be profiled," Griffin said, according to the West Volusia Beacon. "On the law-enforcement-compliance side, it's a good example of how to handle yourself. If I wasn't calm and respectful, it could have turned into something different. There are multiple instances of the same thing that ends up with someone going to jail, getting a felony for assault, because they fight back."
Griffin, who is a former military police officer, received an invitation to be hired and trained by the sheriff's office if he wanted to get back into law enforcement.
"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," Sheriff Mike Chitwood said.