Griffith issues statement in support of county investigator being sued in federal court

Griffith issues statement in support of county investigator being sued in federal court

Pulaski County Commonwealth’s Attorney Justin L. Griffith has issued a statement in support of a Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office investigator who is facing a civil lawsuit in Federal Court.

The Roanoke Times reported Tuesday a story regarding a lawsuit against a drug investigator with the sheriff’s office. The story prompted Griffith’s statement.

The suit alledges the investigator, Sgt. David S. Cressell obtained a grand jury indictment against the wrong person, which lead to her arrest and temporary incarceration.

According to the Roanoke Times report, U.S. District Judge Thomas Cullen said preliminary evidence suggested the mix-up resulted in Cressell’s failure to perform basic investigative tasks and give complete grand jury testimony.

According to the story, Linda Trail of North Carolina filed the suit and is requesting unspecified compensation from Cressell for the nearly nine days she spent incarcerated in 2017 before authorities discovered the error.

On Oct. 13, the court rejected Cressell’s request to terminate the civil rights case against him, the report states. By rejecting Cressell’s request, Trail and her attorney can prepare for the possibility of a trial in Roanoke federal court. She claims her rights against malicious prosecution were violated. Her suit was originally filed in 2019 and updated in April.

According to the Roanoke Times, Trail has the same last name as a woman against whom authorities had evidence, but her first name is different from the person identified by a police informant, Judge Cullen’s ruling said.

In his statement, which was issued Wednesday to local media, Griffith said that when he was hired as an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for Pulaski County, “it was made clear to me this office values loyalty and respect.”

“When I accepted the appointment to be our Commonwealth’s Attorney in July, 2020, I made a promise to myself to carry those values forward in a transparent way.

“On Tuesday, October 20, 2020, the Roanoke Times released a story regarding a lawsuit against a Pulaski County investigator.

“Everyone can be respectful of what happened to Linda Trail. We should also be respectful of the fact that everyone makes mistakes. In addition, I respect the outcome of the case is up to the Court. I have the utmost respect for David Cressell and the work he does. My opinion is not based on preliminary evidence. It is based on years of having the opportunity to walk beside him. David Cressell has given many years of selfless service to our county. He has played a vital role in the prosecution of numerous cases with detestable facts. His work has been pivotal in the pursuit of justice, time after time, in our county. I was not raised to pick and choose when to support those that deserve it and David Cressell has my support.”

Patriot Staff Report

(Photo: Commonwealth’s Attorney Justin Griffith)