CRYSTAL LAKE – A DuPage County Sheriff’s deputy who was accused of pointing a gun at a woman in a fit of road rage was acquitted of the charges and remains in good standing with the department, her attorney said.
McHenry County Judge Jeffrey Hirsch said the alleged victim’s testimony at trial was “shifty, pretentious and unreliable,” and led him to believe that the complaining driver had committed a number of driving violations of her own, according to the judge’s order.
Crystal Lake police responded Aug. 14, 2016, to the area of Golf Course and Barlina roads, where off-duty officer Diana French-Tumblin reportedly had pointed a Glock 27 pistol at another driver, according to a complaint filed in McHenry County court.
French-Tumblin later was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. She was acquitted of those charges after a Dec. 21 bench trial.
French-Tumblin’s attorney, Scott Anderson, declined to comment whether the officer was relocated within the department while the charges were pending, but said she “has always been in good standing” with the sheriff’s office.
“[Hirsch] was very thoughtful and put a lot of time into his decision, and we’re very pleased,” Anderson said.
The driver who filed the complaint testified that French-Tumblin had gotten out of her car and pointed a Glock semi-automatic pistol at her, holding the gun sideways in one hand, palm down, while walking up to the driver side window, according to the judge’s order.
French-Tumblin denied ever pointing a gun at the woman.
The female driver went on to say that French-Tumblin drove away when the woman threatened to call 911, so she continued to follow the officer, stopping only when a 911 dispatcher told her to, the order stated.
Hirsch did not buy the woman’s testimony that she initially followed the officer’s sedan because it was driving erratically.
“[She] said she followed the car to see where it was going, which begs the question what was she planning to do once she got to wherever that might’ve been?” Hirsch wrote in his decision. “If she was actually concerned about erratic driving, a reasonable person in her situation would’ve kept a careful distance and called the police at once.”
Other testimony suggested that the driver actually was more enraged than concerned.
The driver’s son, who also was in the car, testified to a similar story, but added that French-Tumblin flashed her badge and yelled vulgar words with her gun drawn.
He later admitted having instead told the police that he only heard French-Tumblin say, “Why are you following me? Stop following me.”
On French-Tumblin’s account, the other driver did not let her merge lanes and flipped off the off-duty cop when she sped up to merge in front of her.
When she realized she was being followed, French-Tumblin planned to drive to the nearest police department – Lake in the Hills – but instead turned off Barlina Road onto St. Andrews Lane, where the driver pulled up behind her, according to the judge’s order.
Hirsch wrote that French-Tumblin was being followed at a distance of about 7 feet, reaching 40 mph.
French-Tumblin got out of her car, held up her badge, and announced herself as an off-duty DuPage County Sheriff’s officer, the order stated. She held her loaded gun at her side in her right hand, pointed down at the ground.
When she asked “Why are you following me?” the woman began to argue, and French-Tumblin got back in her car to avoid making the situation worse, she testified.
“If anything, the evidence here points in the direction of road rage, when instead, common civility should’ve kept things in check,” Hirsch said in the order. “It goes without saying that harassment and intimidation are not among the lawful uses of a car.”
French-Tumblin has worked as a deputy in the corrections bureau of the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office for the past eight years, the order stated. She acknowledged having not handled the situation in the best way, but said she felt “threatened and unsafe” and wanted to bring the situation to an end.
“Nowadays, it’s not a far leap of imagination to realize that a road rage reaction might end in tragedy. Case in point, [the driver] did not know the person she was tailgating was an armed off-duty deputy, and likewise, [French-Tumblin] did not know the person she came up against could’ve been carrying a concealed firearm,” Hirsch wrote. “Luckily, no tragedy occurred that day.”