Politics

Deputy caught on camera kicking person in custody ignores calls to exit Franklin County sheriff’s race

Capt. John Grismore, center, can be seen kicking a man in custody at the Franklin County Sheriff's Office on Sunday, Aug. 7. Screenshot courtesy of the Franklin County Sheriff's Office

Updated Aug. 24 at 5:48 p.m.

The top vote-getter in both the Republican and Democratic primary for Franklin County sheriff is still slated to appear on the November ballot, despite calls by both parties for him to pull out of the race after he was suspended for kicking a man in police custody

John Grismore, a captain in the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, won the Republican primary last week and also garnered enough write-ins to appear on the Democratic ticket. The candidate did not withdraw by the deadline to do so, which was Aug. 19, according to the Vermont Secretary of State’s Office.

On Wednesday, the Secretary of State’s Office confirmed that state law permits one final opportunity for candidates who miss the withdrawal deadline to remove their names from the ballot by submitting a request before the printing deadline, which is Aug. 26.

(Grismore did not respond to multiple requests for comment.)  

Franklin County GOP chair Joe Luneau said Friday that he hoped the Republican and Democratic parties would work together to back a single write-in candidate for sheriff.

“For the write-in to be successful and not just symbolic, it should have backing from both the major parties in Franklin County,” he said, adding that the GOP would identify a potential candidate soon. 

In the meantime, Luneau made clear that Grismore would not receive any support from county Republicans. “It goes without saying.”

According to Reier Erickson, a Franklin County delegate to the Vermont Democratic Party, county Democrats plan to discuss the sheriff’s race Monday night. In an email to VTDigger, he said that “big rifts” between Democrats and Republicans would “probably” get in the way of both parties supporting a single candidate. However, Democrats have yet to make a decision, he said. 

On Aug. 9, the County Courier reported Grismore’s suspension for an alleged assault on a detainee that took place two days prior. The sheriff’s office released body camera footage of the incident on Aug. 10.

Vermont State Police are investigating Grismore in connection with the alleged assault, according to Sheriff Roger Langevin, who is not seeking reelection this year. 

In the video, a man is seen handcuffed and shackled to a bench in the sheriff’s office. The man attempts to walk away from the bench, but appears to fall on his face and says, “Oh, that hurt.” 

Two deputies walk over and help the man sit back on the bench, telling him to stay seated. The man then stands back up and appears to resist the deputies’ efforts to get him to sit down, at which point Grismore enters the frame. 

Grismore kicks the man in the groin, pushing him back onto the bench. He then appears to press his foot into the suspect’s groin two more times, yelling at him to “sit down.” The man stands up again, and Grismore again kicks him in the groin back onto the bench.

After the incident was made public, both the Franklin County Republican and Democratic committees condemned Grismore and called on him to withdraw from the sheriff’s race.

Correction: An earlier version of this story omitted information about a final opportunity for candidates to remove their names from the ballot.

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Ethan Weinstein

About Ethan

Ethan Weinstein is a general assignment reporter focusing on Windsor County and the surrounding area. Previously, he worked as an assistant editor for the Mountain Times and wrote for the Vermont Standard.

Email: [email protected]

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