Jogger detained by Volusia deputies teams up with Sheriff’s Office for training

An incident spreading on social media involving a man detained for questioning in Deltona has started a partnership with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.

Joseph Griffin said he was caught by surprise when he was jogging in his neighborhood last week and suddenly surrounded by deputies.

Body camera video shows as deputies tell him he matched the description of a burglary suspect. 

“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,” the deputy is heard telling Griffin.

The 17-minute body camera footage shows as deputies eventually detain him.

“I’m gonna detain you, look, you're not under arrest. I'm detaining you right now because you fit the description,” he said.

Griffin begins to record the encounter on Facebook Live.

At one point, another deputy holds his cellphone to record for him.

“They thought, ‘Hey, if this is gonna make you feel safe, we don’t have anything to hide, and we’ll play this thing,” explained Sheriff Mike Chitwood.

Griffin was eventually cleared and let go. The now registered nurse in Volusia County says his former experience as law enforcement in the military taught him to remain calm and compliant.

Still, he says it was an unnerving experience. 

“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.

Sheriff Chitwood said suspect descriptions are almost always off, adding it’s part of investigating crimes.

“It was unfortunate that an innocent person was stopped, but they stopped the person based on the description that was provided,” he said. 

Griffin said he understands deputies had a job to do but says the ordeal embarrassed him.

“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 you know they’re doing something,” he said.

Sheriff Chitwood said he’s proud of how both sides handled the situation and understands Griffin’s perspective. 

“I get it. You’re out working out, and now you got nine cops around you in your neighborhood where you’re the only black guy that lives there. I mean I see that and I get it,” he said. 

He took to social media to remind people of the difficulties of the job. 

“To his credit, he says maybe you could have put me in the car, maybe you could have had me sit on the side of the road, yes we could have done that, we would have been criticized if we did that as well,” he said. 

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Chitwood and Griffin tell FOX 35 News they have discussed the situation and plan to use it as a learning experience for both citizens and law enforcement. 

Chitwood invited Griffin to participate in the department’s biased training series starting next month. 

“The keyword we both talked on the phone was empathy. People need to understand how we do our job -- which a lot of people don’t understand -- and people need to understand when you’re being stopped what that perspective is,” said Sheriff Chitwood.

“I just want them to kind of sympathize and put themselves in the other person’s shoes sometimes,” said Griffin. 

Watch FOX 35 for the latest news.