Almost exactly one year after an off-duty Kendall County Sheriff’s deputy pulled his weapon on a family in line at the Oswego Wal-Mart, the Montgomery couple has filed a federal lawsuit naming the deputy and Kendall County as defendants.
Jason and Nicole Thurmond filed the suit Feb. 4. The incident took place Feb. 5, 2012.
In the suit, which seeks at least $400,000 in damages, the Thurmonds allege Deputy Craig French used excessive force, assaulted the couple and inflicted emotional distress during the incident in which the Thurmonds and French argued over how many items the Thurmonds had brought to a checkout line. The suit also reveals that during the argument French allegedly chided the couple for allegedly being on public assistance.
Thurmond was charged with battery in the incident after pushing French away from his then nine-months pregnant wife. French then pulled his weapon after being pushed.
Video security tapes of the incident made available to Patch through a Freedom of Information Act request depict a scene of mass confusion, with French only revealing he was a sheriff's deputy after pulling his weapon.
Thurmond was found not guilty in the incident in November.
The suit filed by the Thurmonds also alleges that the Kendall County Sheriff’s office operates a “code of silence” that results in members of the office failing to “report instances of misconduct of which they are aware, including the use of unlawful force, despite their obligation to do so as sworn police officers. This includes police officers who remain silent or give false or misleading information during official investigations into allegations of fellow officer related to misconduct that occurred on duty or off-duty in order to protect themselves or their fellow officers from discipline, criminal prosecution or civil liability.”
Further, the suit alleges the sheriff’s office fails to properly train its deputies and retains unqualified officers.
In a statement posted Wednesday afternoon on the Sheriff's Department's Facebook page, Sheriff Richard Randall said, “The allegations contained in the lawsuit filed against the Kendall County Sheriff’s Office are outrageous, despicable, and untrue. I wanted the citizens of Kendall County to hear this from me first. This is why the link to the lawsuit is posted on our Facebook page.”
On Thursday Sheriff Randall continued to decry the lawsuit on the department's Facebook page, calling it and abuse of the legal system and "legal extortion." Randall claimed Thurmond offered to drop the lawsuit for a payment of $20,000.
"This isn’t about the truth, or about justice for a victim. It’s all about money.” Randall said on Facebook. “It’s time someone speaks plainly about these types of lawsuits. They are the legal equivalent of extortion.”
In the same post Chief Deputy Scott Koster called the lawsuit "a grab for a quick $20,000 from the taxpayers of Kendall County.”
A copy of the Federal Complaint is attached to this article.