April 22, 2024

Warren County Sheriff's Office staff at Accreditation ceremony June 1. Driskill far right, was instrumental in completing much of the accreditation documentation./ /Courtesy photo WCSO.

Warren County Sheriff’s Office Major Jeff Driskill resigned, effective Friday June 9, according to a source familiar with the situation, as allegations of untruthfulness swirled around him.

That resignation came on the same day that Daley and the Board of Supervisors members received information that Driskill’s credibility had been cited as a reason for denial of medical benefits he sought from the Virginia’s Workers Compensation Commission, after alleging that he received an injury during training while employed at WCSO.

The Shaw Report obtained information through a Virginia Freedom of Information Act request that Driskill had sought a lifetime award of medical benefits based on an injury he said occurred on Feb. 16, 2021, while training at the Skyline Regional Criminal Justice Academy in Middletown, Va. Following a Jan. 13, 2023, hearing on the matter, his claim was denied.

Included in the FOIA response was the Opinion and an audio transcript of the hearing, held in the Clarke County Courthouse.
Worker’s Compensation Commission (WCC) Deputy Commissioner William T. Kennard, in his Feb. 15, 2023, Opinion in the case of Jeffrey Driskill v. Warren County Virginia Association of Counties Group S, Insurance Carrier VACO Groups Self-Insurance Risk Pool, Claim Administrator, denied Driskill’s claim for a shoulder and bicep injury he said occurred on February 16, 2021, during a defensive tactics class at the Skyline Regional Criminal Justice Academy. Driskill sought an award of lifetime medical benefits related to the alleged injury.

Workers Compensation Commission Ruling
Kennard wrote in part that, “Having carefully observed the claimant [Driskill] during the course of the January 13, 2023 hearing and having considered both his hearing testimony, and the testimony from his November 30, 2022 deposition, we find the claimant to be a less than candid and credible witness.”
Kennard went on to cite the discrepancies between Driskill’s deposition testimony that he had not been able to weightlift since the alleged injury and evidence presented by Esther King, the attorney representing Warren County’s interests, of Driskill’s participation in two powerlifting competitions, post-surgery:
“We find that the claimant’s November 30, 2022 deposition testimony in which he denied of participation in any weightlifting events following his February 2021 work injury to be highly concerning.”
When asked at the Jan. hearing about his documented participation in two weightlifting events considering his prior deposition testimony, the opinion stated that Driskill offered “a lengthy response in what we find to be an unconvincing attempt to somehow differentiate his participation at these events, from the process of training for a competition.”
Kennard went on to say that Driskill, when confronted with his specific deposition testimony denials, stated that he experienced hearing difficulties at his deposition.”
The opinion continued, “We find the questions presented at the claimant’s deposition, and his responses to those questions, to be unequivocal. We find nothing to suggest that the claimant was confused by their content, or that he was unable to fully hear the questions presented. The claimant clearly denied any such participation in competitive events, and asserted an inability to perform the very same weightlifting exercises that we now know he performed in competition.
Claimant’s denials, and his unavailing attempt to explain these inconsistencies at the evidentiary hearing, lead us to further question the claimant’s veracity as a witness.”

Driskill’s Testimony on Truthfulness
The audio recording of the hearing clearly indicates that Driskill understood and vocalized that were he not truthful in his testimony, he would lose his job. Untruthfulness is one of a number of infractions that can result in the decertification of a law enforcement officer in Virginia.

Driskill is asked by his own attorney, Michael Ritchie, “As a law enforcement officer you understand the penalties of lying under oath?”
Driskill replied, “I do.”

Ritchie continued the questioning, “And there are legal penalties that you would suffer if you were convicted of perjury. Is that right?”
Driskill stated, “Correct.”

Ritchie asked Driskill, “If you’re a law enforcement officer and commit perjury, are you able to be a law enforcement officer afterwards?”
Driskill replied, “No sir, you are not.”

The Shaw Report sent an email to County officials Friday, June 9, informing them of the opinion, and asking for a response regarding the situation.  None of those contacted responded by email, though reached by telephone, South River District BOS member Cheryl L. Cullers, said, “I can speak only for myself, not the rest of the board. I am disturbed and disappointed to read this report from the Worker’s Comp Commission hearing. I am also disturbed and disappointed to learn that Mr. Driskill was allowed to remain in his position after the report finding was released. Unfortunately, the Board of Supervisors, I am told, has no authority other than funding of the Sheriff’s Department.”

Since the officer decertification laws enacted by Virginia in 2020, untruthfulness is one of the offenses for which a law enforcement officer may be decertified. It is not known if Driskill’s abrupt departure Friday was related to the WCC opinion details being brought to the attention of Warren County officials.

Driskill is still listed on the agency’s website, though County Administrator Edwin C. Daley reportedly emailed some government officials Friday afternoon that Driskill had resigned. No information regarding Driskill’s departure, nor his successor. have been released by Sheriff Butler.

A deputy encountered on duty in the community over the weekend, upon being asked about Driskill’s Friday resignation said, “No, we have not been told anything.”

Driskill did not respond to a request seeking comment on his departure.

Gilbert’s call for Butler to resign
Also on Friday, Virginia Speaker of the House Todd Gilbert, issued the following statement, regarding Sheriff Mark Butler and the recent circuit court filing by the Warren Commonwealth’s Attorney office that outlines why he cannot be considered a credible witness.

” I have worked in the criminal justice system as both a prosecutor and defense counsel for more than twenty-five years, including two years working in the Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office.

In my entire career, I have never encountered a situation where a chief law enforcement officer in any jurisdiction has been shown by an official court filing to lack to the ability to credibly testify in a court of law. It certainly appears that the sheriff misrepresented his reasons for leaving his previous employment when he stood for election before the citizens of Warren County.

These revelations are as shocking as they are unprecedented, and if she sheriff is truly concerned about the residents of this county, he should resign rather than pursuing re-election.

Butler did not respond to Driskill’s resignation or Gilbert’s call for him to resign.  He has publicly stated that the two Internal Affairs investigations he was under when he abruptly resigned from the Herndon Police Department in 2019 are “politically motivated. “

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