A veteran Kendall County sheriff’s deputy is still on active duty following an altercation Sunday in which he drew his weapon on a fellow shopper at Oswego’s Walmart. Meanwhile, that shopper, 38-year-old Jason Thurmond of Montgomery, said he has filed an official complaint and intends to take further legal action.
According to an Oswego police report, several police responded to the store on Route 34 for a 911 call of a fight in progress at about noon. Thurmond said he was in an express checkout line with his wife, and had gone back into the store to get eggs. When he returned, he said, he saw his wife in tears and another shopper yelling at her.
"The guy was in her face, and I heard him saying, 'What, you don't know how to count? You're holding up the whole line,'" Thurmond said. "I told him to get the hell out of her face and leave her alone."
Thurmond identified the man as Kendall County Sheriff's Deputy Craig French, a department veteran who serves as the public information officer. The sheriff's department has not identified French, but his name appears in the Oswego police report on the incident.
Thurmond said French got closer to him, and Thurmond admitted to shoving French to get him away from his wife, who is nine months pregnant. It was then, he said, that French pulled his gun.
French did not identify himself as a police officer, Thurmond said.
"He was wearing a black jacket and blue jeans," Thurmond said. "He looked like a regular citizen to me."
French did eventually show his badge, Thurmond said, after one of the cashiers asked him to. Thurmond was arrested by Oswego police, who arrived a short time later, and charged with misdemeanor battery.
The sheriff's office is conducting its own investigation into the matter, said Detective Sgt. Joe Jasnosz.
"The purpose of this internal investigation is to determine if the deputy’s actions are consistent with the rules and regulations of the Sheriff’s Office," Jasnosz said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. "This internal investigation is separate from any criminal investigation completed by the Oswego Police Department. Final determination of the internal investigation will be made after any criminal court proceedings are complete as to not influence the criminal investigation or criminal court proceedings."
Thurmond said he filed an official complaint with the Kendall County Sheriff's Office. When reached Tuesday night, Chief Deputy Scott Koster said he was unaware of whether Thurmond had filed a complaint, and could not confirm.
Koster referred to the investigation as "serious," and said the department would be "fair to everyone on all sides: to the arrestee, to our employees and to the public."
According to Rob Sherwood, Oswego police media relations officer, there are conflicting witness statements about whether Thurmond attempted to hit French after allegedly shoving him. He also said alcohol is not believed to be a factor in the incident.
"He was not charged on whether he took a swing; he was charged based on the shove," Sherwood said. Sherwood confirmed that the Oswego police closed their case with the arrest of Thurmond.
Thurmond said he plans to take additional legal action. He said he has not been able to stop thinking about the incident since it happened, and his wife is having trouble sleeping.
He also said he is upset that French remains on active duty, saying he should be remanded to a desk, or suspended without pay. Thurmond said French "endangered me, my wife, my unborn child, and Walmart employees and customers."
"He's supposed to be a peace officer," he said. "At no point in time did he try to keep the peace. He provoked (the situation)."