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Attorney questions DUI charges for Somerset police sergeant

By: Tim Johnston Email
By: Tim Johnston Email

A Somerset police officer has been suspended, after being arrested on a DUI charge.

Ctsy: Commonwealth Journal

SOMERSET, Ky. (WKYT) - Pulling people over is a part of Sergeant Jason Griffith's job as an officer for the Somerset Police Department, but having the lights behind him is another story.

"Well, the case is fresh and we don't have all of the facts in front of us just yet," said Attorney Scott Foster, representing Sgt. Griffith.

According to the arrest citation, which we acquired courtesy of the Commonwealth Journal, Sgt. Griffith was arrested by a Department of Fish and Wildlife officer Sunday night on suspicion of driving under the influence.

"It obviously bothers him and upsets him that he's taken away from his career over this," answered Foster on Griffith's behalf.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife says Officer Lucas Tucker was on his way home when he noticed a truck driving all over Highway 80 in Pulaski County. Tucker attempted to stop the truck, but the Department of Fish and Wildlife says the truck ignored Officer Tucker. The truck finally stopped at the Somerset city limit. The arrest citation says Griffith was "crossing all lanes, going into the grass and shoulder on both sides of the road.". The report said Tucker could smell an odor of alcoholic beverage and that Sgt. Griffith was reportedly swaying outside his truck. The report said Griffith refused his field sobriety test and breath test.

Foster has a lot of questions about the validity of the arrest. "I've got to do some research on the topic, but there are some questions about the authority of a fish and wildlife officer to enforce the criminal laws in the State of Kentucky."

The Department of Fish and Wildlife say they have jurisdiction statewide and explain that they can act in "life threatening situations." The Department of Fish and Wildlife said Officer Tucker called the Somerset Police in to assist, and once on scene they identified the driver as Sgt. Griffith. A spokesman for the Fish and Wildlife said the Somerset Police requested that Officer Tucker complete his arrest report.

"There's some statutory language that tends to indicate they may not," added Foster.

At this time, Foster explained that Sgt. Griffith is on paid administrative leave, per department policy, and he said the 20-year vet has an otherwise sterling career.

"There's been no prior issues with him, no prior arrests or criminal complaints, or no other issues of that nature," said Foster.

However there's another twist, Foster said he is investigating a claim of a prior incident between Sgt. Griffith and the arresting officer.

"There is an indication that in the past Mr. Griffith stopped this gentleman and cited him," adding, "I don't know if there's an animus between the two."

While there is still more to sort out, Foster said the sergeant will have his day in court on November 18th, Foster said his client will enter a "not guilty" plea.


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