Former deputy files nearly $12.5M defamation claim against Spokane County

A former Spokane County Sheriff’s Office sergeant has filed a nearly $12.5 million defamation claim against the county following his termination.

Jeff Thurman was terminated in June following an internal investigation into claims he made racist, sexist and threatening remarks. Thurman was accused of saying “You ready to kill some (N word) tonight or what?” in a phone call with another deputy.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich announced Thurman’s termination at a press conference in June. Knezovich said an investigation was launched after a complaint was filed by another deputy.

The complaint alleged Thurman, while off-duty, placed a phone call to an on-duty deputy in December of 2016. The deputy answered the phone call over a Bluetooth speak while parked next to a third deputy in a separate patrol vehicle. The third deputy expressed concerns with supervisors.

Thurman was placed on administrative leave on May 8 pending the investigation from the Office of Professional Standards. The investigation found Thurman committed several violations of the SCSO’s policy and Washington State Civil Service employment law.

Thurman has appealed his termination to the Civil Service Commission.

At the June press conference, Knezovich said Thurman also made statements of sexual harassment and acted in a way unbecoming of a deputy/supervisor.

Thurman’s claim states Knezovich’s comments were defamatory.

Thurman worked for the sheriff’s office for 18 years and was often recognized for his work with K9 Laslo.

Catch up on the day’s news and look ahead to tomorrow by signing up for the Daily Local email newsletter from 4 News Now. Headlines, events, and staff picks every weeknight at 8 p.m. Sign up HERE to get your news on the D.L.