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Written reprimand issued in complaint tied to pot search

LAWRENCEVILLE -- A Gwinnett County police officer received a written reprimand after he admitted using tobacco and making an inappropriate comment during a disputed search for marijuana, according to documents obtained Wednesday.

The reprimand of Officer J.P. Griswold was the result of an internal affairs investigation into one of two complaints filed in November by Lawrenceville resident Scott Smithwick.

According to documents obtained via an Open Records Act request, Griswold admitted to "using smokeless tobacco/dip on scene and spitting in the suspect's trash can several times," and to making the following comment to Smithwick after finding a box of condoms during the search: "Magnum condoms, why would you have those."

Representatives of the Gwinnett County Police Department are prohibited from using tobacco "when on calls or any other time which may be offensive or inappropriate."

Griswold was found in violation of the GCPD's "duty regarding conduct" code, which states, in part, that officers "shall at all times conduct themselves in such a manner as to reflect a favorable image on themselves and the Gwinnett County Police Department."

Smithwick, 42, filed the formal complaints following an encounter at his Smokehouse Path home, during which several GCPD officers, acting on a tip about an alleged marijuana growing operation, searched the house's basement and interrogated Smithwick and his father.

Police have said Smithwick confessed to growing and smoking pot; Smithwick maintains he grows only tropical plants in the home, and that he was physically intimidated and coerced into a false admission.

The second complaint, filed against Sgt. S.H. Kannigiser, covers the case's bigger issue, with Smithwick alleging that his constitutional rights were violated during the search. Among other things, Smithwick said he was not allowed to video tape the search when he requested to do so.

The complaint against Kannigiser has not yet been released. It was unclear if the investigation was still in progress or in a 10-day open records waiting period following approval, per the department's internal affairs policy.