Fired deputy who was charged with assault wins sheriff race

A fired Vermont sheriff’s deputy who was charged with assault for kicking a shackled prisoner has won the election for sheriff of the county in which he served.

John Grismore, 49, of Fairfax, won Tuesday’s race to become Franklin County sheriff, surpassing the two write-in candidates, according to the Vermont secretary of state’s office.

Grismore was the only candidate on the ballot after winning both the Republican and Democratic nominations in the Aug. 9 primary. But he was suspended and then fired after a video showing Grismore kicking a prisoner on Aug. 7 was publicized the day after the primary.

The county Republican and Democratic parties then threw their support behind the write-in candidacy of Sheriff’s department Lt. Mark Lauer, a 27-year Vermont State Police veteran who has been at the department for nearly a decade.

Grismore said Monday he appreciates that “voters were afforded an opportunity to understand the facts and circumstances.” He contends that the information about his suspension, which he called a personnel matter, and the video were “leaked” without context. He also has maintained that he used the minimum amount of force necessary to prevent the prisoner from spitting on him and other deputies.

“I think a lot of people could see that this sure felt like a political ploy to undermine a campaign,” he said in a phone interview.

In August, current Sheriff Roger Langevin called Grismore’s actions “egregious” and said he had been notified by deputies. He referred the case to the Franklin County State’s Attorney’s Office, which requested a state police review.

Last month, Grismore pleaded not guilty to simple assault and said Monday that he’s confident he will be acquitted.

Lauer said Monday that it was difficult race as a write-in candidate. “I had just about three months to do my campaigning and try to get my name out there,” he said. “It was a difficult situation to be in.”

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