Bipartisan Calls for Sheriff Candidate to Withdraw Over Groin Kick Video

John Grismore, who is running for sheriff in Franklin County, Vermont, was seen on surveillance video kicking a handcuffed detainee in the groin, prompting police to investigate and Republicans and Democrats alike to have his name removed from the ballot

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A police investigation in northwestern Vermont has left big questions surrounding a sheriff’s race in November’s elections.

A state police investigation in northwestern Vermont, for now, has left big questions surrounding one race in November's elections — because the subject of the investigation is a candidate for office.

Video released last week by the Franklin County Sheriff's Office shows Capt. John Grismore, a sheriff's deputy, kicking a handcuffed and seemingly intoxicated detainee, trying to get the man to sit down.

Republicans and Democrats alike are now calling on Grismore, a candidate for sheriff, to remove his name from the November ballot.

"It sets a bad tone,” said Zach Weight, the Republican running to become the next state's attorney of Franklin County, who condemned the content of the video.

John Lavoie, Weight's opponent in that race and a current deputy Franklin County state's attorney, agreed.

"I think Captain Grismore should withdraw," Lavoie told NECN and NBC10 Boston Monday.

In last week's primary, Grismore secured the Republican nomination to replace the county's retiring sheriff. With no Democrat running, he appears to have also gotten enough write-in votes to land that party's nomination for November.

The surveillance video, released by Grismore's boss, has now sparked those bipartisan calls for Grismore to withdraw from the race for sheriff of Franklin County.

"I can't imagine that Capt. Grismore would be elected at this point, but should he be, the only way around that is impeachment by the legislature," noted Lavoie, who emphasized Grismore had primarily administrative duties.

Those duties mean Lavoie does not believe the investigation should harm the prosecution of cases now before the court.

Lavoie and Weight both said the current sheriff, Roger Langevin, acted appropriately in swiftly putting Grismore on administrative leave. The office announced the leave last week.

"My concerns relate to whether or not the Franklin County community is in a position to trust [Grismore], given the conduct displayed on video," Weight said. "I think there are serious questions related to if he was sheriff, and a deputy under him acted in that manner, what steps would he take?"

Vermont State Police troopers are investigating the allegations of mistreatment, which the sheriff's office said Grismore's own colleagues reported to senior leadership. When Langevin reported the situation to the state's attorney in Franklin County, prosecutors subsequently called in Vermont State Police, according to a news release from the sheriff's office.

"We really feel it's incumbent on this individual to withdraw," Joe Luneau, who chairs the Franklin County GOP, said of Grismore.

Luneau said if Grismore stays in the race, the party would like to see a write-in candidate come forward to challenge him.

"My hope is there would be a viable alternative to the current Republican/Democratic candidate on the ballot," Luneau told NECN and NBC10 Boston.

Zach Scheffler, the chair of the Franklin County Democratic Committee, released a written statement condemning what is seen on the surveillance video released by the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.

"In light of the video that has surfaced depicting Grismore violently kicking a handcuffed suspect, he cannot continue to credibly campaign for this office," Scheffler wrote in a statement posted to social media. "We Franklin County Democrats join our neighbors in the Republican Party leadership in demanding that Grismore end his run for Franklin County Sheriff."

Winners of Vermont's primary elections have until the end of this week to withdraw, according to Eric Covey, the chief of staff for Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos, a Democrat. If there is a vacancy on the ballot created by a candidate's withdrawal, political parties then have a week to nominate a replacement, Covey added, citing state statute.

If a candidate withdraws from the race after ballots are printed, then votes cast for the candidate will count, Covey further explained.

NECN and NBC10 Boston tried, unsuccessfully, to reach Grismore Monday to ask him about his plans for the race — or to explain what was seen on video.

This story will be updated if Grismore responds to our emailed inquiry.

It was not immediately known to NECN and NBC10 Boston if Grismore has an attorney.

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