SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Chatham County Police Department (CCPD) told the public she was a person of interest in a hit and run accident that hurt someone in the parking lot of a Savannah Kroger.
Her picture was shown countless times on local news outlets — including on WSAV — and on social media. But as it turns out, police say she is innocent.
“I’m definitely angry about it still and I definitely feel like there should be a public apology,” said Symone Graybill.
Graybill says she had no idea she was a person of interest until a family member called her when they saw her picture on the news.
Graybill says she did not witness or hear about the crash during her visit to Kroger. She says she was there to buy a Starbucks drink and headphones. It was supposed to be a treat for her hard work at two jobs and dedication to a recent photoshoot.
When she saw the release, Graybill says her mother immediately contacted detectives who interviewed her and, eventually, cleared her name.
Witnesses told police the hit and run suspect was a black woman with a facial scar and Caribbean accent. Graybill does not entirely fit the description, nor does she drive or own the car in question.
“It was very scary. I don’t understand how you can chalk it up to a simple error like that. That was serious. My life was definitely in danger,” said Graybill.
News 3 reached out to CCPD Captain Gene Harley who says several factors were considered before releasing the picture to the public. Because surveillance video was scarce, detectives relied on time codes and witness testimony.
According to Cpt. Harley, a person involved in the accident identified Graybill as the suspect. A surveillance camera recorded her leaving the store at the time when the accident happened.
“There’s a lot more factors into why we released that photo,” explained Cpt. Harley. “…including at least one person who identified that photo as being a person involved in the incident.”
When police realized the mistake, CCPD says they immediately cleared Graybill’s name and corrected a news release. Cpt. Harley says a detective apologized to Graybill personally.
Still, Graybill says she is angry and wants a public apology for the ordeal she says could have cost her her career, her reputation, and her future.
“They definitely affected my life tremendously with that… and I just definitely want them to be more cautious next time when they’re handling a situation like this,” said Graybill.
“We apologize. I, on behalf of county police, apologize for any hardships she may have experienced by this. But just know that we do our best to ensure these things do not happen. Unfortunately, in cases like these, these things happen outside of our control,” said Cpt. Harley.
CCPD says they have not yet identified the correct person of interest in the hit and run case. If you know anything, you are asked to call Chatham County Police at 912-651-4705 or CrimeStoppers at 912-234-2020. Tipsters remain anonymous and may qualify for a cash reward.