by: Tom Regan Updated:GRIFFIN, Ga. —
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into whether a metro Atlanta police chief violated the law in conducting a background check on a member of a grand jury panel that indicted one of his officers.
Channel 2 Action News obtained a copy of a letter from Griffin Circuit District Attorney Scott Ballard to the GBI, requesting assistance in an investigation of the Griffin Police Department and Police Chief Frank Strickland.
"A (redacted) to the chief of police in Griffin ran a criminal history check upon a grand juror. A couple of days later, the attorney representing a Griffin police officer who had been indicted for making false statements to sheriff's department and the 911 center filed a challenge to the indictment on the basis that one or more felons served on the grand jury that indicted the police officer. If true, the conduct may be criminal," wrote District Attorney Scott Ballard.
Channel 2's Tom Regan went to Griffin police to get a comment from Strickland. A spokesman said the chief could not comment on camera about the ongoing investigation. The spokesman emailed a statement which said in part: "The Griffin Police Department received information that a possible convicted felon had served on a recent grand jury panel. Under Georgia law, a police agency can request a criminal history. One name was entered in the records check and it was revealed this person was a convicted felon and had served on a grand jury. This information was not disseminated."
A member of the same grand jury said she was somewhat startled to hear that a juror on grand jury that indicted an officer had been subject to a background check.
"When I first found out, to put it nicely, I was upset." said former juror Twana Pruitt.
The indictment against the police officer was dismissed, according to a representative for his lawyer, who was not available to comment on the GBI investigation.