Jury sides with Montgomery man in Walmart gun incident
By Linda Girardi and MAtt hanley Beacon-News Staff November 6, 2012 3:22PM
Jason Thurmond, charged with shoving an off-duty Kendall County police officer, leaves the Kendall County Courthouse in Yorkville during a break on the first day of the trial on Monday, November 5, 2012. | Steven Buyansky~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 8, 2012 6:24AM
YORKVILLE — It took jurors less than an hour to decide that a Montgomery man was not guilty of battery for shoving an off-duty officer in a crowded Walmart on Super Bowl Sunday.
After a two-day trial, Jason Thurmond, 38, was relieved to hear that jurors apparently felt he was justified when he pushed the officer, who then drew a gun in the crowded Oswego store.
“There’s a weight lifted off my chest, let me tell you,” Thurmond said Tuesday evening.
The incident developed as Thurmond and his wife, Nicole, were in the express check-out line at the Walmart on Feb. 5, 2012. While Nicole waited at the cash register, Jason Thurmond stepped out of line to get a carton of eggs.
The long wait for his return and the couple’s full cart in an express line irritated some other customers. Craig French, an off-duty Kendall County sheriff’s deputy, was next in line, and sarcastically asked Nicole Thurmond if she could count.
“At the time I thought he was some crazy guy,” Nicole Thurmond said from the witness stand Tuesday.
Nicole Thurmond testified that French was yelling at her, “Don’t you know how to count and that I was holding up the whole store” and he made a remark about her being on welfare.
“I told him I was moving as fast as I could and that I had waited my turn and he kept yelling,” Nicole Thurmond said.
Jason Thurmond said when he returned, there was a man “in my wife’s face yelling at her.” Thurmond said the man was angry and invaded his wife’s personal space. Both Thurmond and his wife said they did not know the man was a police officer.
Thurmond said he told French to “leave us alone and we’ll get out of here.” French responded by saying “I am going to deal with her,” Thurmond testified.
“I took it (as) he was going to do something to her,” he said. “He refused to back up. I was sure he was going to attack us.”
Thurmond said even though he told French to leave them alone several times, French, who was not in uniform, took a step forward.
“I responded back with a push,” Thurmond said.
At that point, French — fearing for his safety — drew his gun and pointed it at Jason Thurmond.
After the jury returned with their verdict, the Thurmonds were on their way to pick up their children from a babysitter. Their child was born 10 days after the Walmart incident.
“I think they focused on why the situation started,” Jason Thurmond said of jurors. “If he had just waited like normal customers and left us alone, none of this would have happened.”