A Kendall County Sheriff’s deputy was determined to have "lessen(ed) the confidence and esteem" of the department following an internal investigation into an incident in which he drew a gun on a fellow shopper at the Oswego Walmart on Feb. 5 2012.
The exchange began when French made remarks to the wife of Jason Thurmond, Nicole Healy-Thurmond, about the number of items the couple had in an express checkout lane, which then escalated into a shoving match initiated by Thurmond after he said French took a step forward. French then drew his gun, stating only afterward that he was a sheriff’s deputy.
“French did not display the courtesy and decorum I expect from my employees, and thereby tended to lessen the confidence and esteem of the public in the Office of the Sheriff,” Sheriff Richard A. Randall wrote in a letter contained in the department's internal investigation. Randall released the 157-page document Thursday after of a Freedom of Information Act request from the Aurora Beacon News.
“Discipline that is sufficient to prevent such conduct from occurring in the future will be imposed upon Deputy French for this rule violation,” Randall wrote.
“I find that the comments made by Deputy French towards your wife, although not hostile, vulgar or threatening, could be perceived as impolite and discourteous. I find no evidence that Deputy French’s comments or actions justified an escalation of aggression, or physical violence by you.”
Police Operations Commander Phillip J. Smith, who conducted an analysis into the matter added that French’s comments, like “Can’t you count?” and “You’re holding up the rest of the line” were not threatening.
“Furthermore, these comments were made as a private citizen, and should be treated as such and protected,” wrote Smith, as French was off-duty at the time.
Thurmond was charged with battery in the incident, but was found not guilty last November.
Thurmond had filed a lawsuit against the Sheriff’s office citing excessive force and emotional distress seeking in excess of $400,000 in damages. Randall later claimed Thurmond offered to withdraw the lawsuit for a payment of $20,000.
As of Thursday night, the Kendall County Board agreed unanimously to approve the settlement to Thurmond for $20,000, according to the Aurora Beacon. The rest of the lawsuit will be dropped.
Even if the county were to win the lawsuit, said State’s Attorney Eric Weis, the lawsuit would cost at least $25,000 to defend, which is the deductible on the county's insurance, according to the Beacon.