LAWRENCEVILLE -- An internal investigation has confirmed one Lawrenceville man's accusations that a Gwinnett County police officer made inappropriate sexual comments during a disputed search of his home, which authorities believed was being used as a marijuana grow house.
Acting on a tip last November, Gwinnett County police searched the Smokehouse Path home of Scott Smithwick and his 69-year-old father, Darrell, looking for evidence of a grow operation. While no marijuana was found in the home, the stories differ greatly: Smithwick said he was physically intimidated, harassed and coerced into giving a false confession about his actions in the basement where he grows tropical plants; the responding officers claim Smithwick flip-flopped, was uncooperative and confessed several times to manufacturing pot.
Following the incident -- during and after which no charges were filed -- Smithwick filed two complaints with GCPD.
The first was filed against Sgt. S.H. Kannigiser, Smithwick alleging that he "was violating my constitutional rights and telling me he was going to arrest me for having legal things." The second, less directly tied to the key issues of the case, was against Officer J.P. Griswold -- that complaint was sustained Monday, a police spokesman confirmed.
The complaint against Griswold centers around a comment he allegedly made while searching the home. Upon opening a cabinet in Smithwick's bedroom and finding condoms, the officer reportedly commented that they must be "extra small." Smithwick also said he wandered the home spitting in various trash cans.
The full file was not available for review Monday. While police spokesman Cpl. Edwin Ritter said he could not comment on any possible discipline for Griswold, Smithwick said he was cautiously optimistic.
"It does make me have some faith in the system, that these public servants will be held accountable when they misbehave," Smithwick said. "I say that with a little caution because I haven't seen the results of the other side of this."
Smithwick has maintained that he uses part of the homes basement to grow tropical plants like banana trees, giving them more time to grow before spring starts and he re-plants them outside. The 42-year-old also took care of his father, a former lawyer who was recovering from back surgery and suffering from macular degeneration.
Darrell Smithwick -- who witnessed the search and previously spoke in front of the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners -- passed away Feb. 17, his son said.
"They brought this drama into my home in the last few months of my dad's life," Smithwick said. "I'll never forgive them for that."
Ritter declined comment on the investigation of the complaint against Kannigiser. It was unclear if that probe was still pending or in a 10-day open records waiting period, per the department's internal affairs policy.