After a lengthy investigation and then a background check by outside officials, a candidate for chief of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office was formally charged Monday with simple assault — a charge to which he pleaded not guilty.

John Grismore has already lost his deputy job in the office. Retired Sheriff Roger Langevin fired him this summer after viewing a video of Grismore using force against a handcuffed and shackled detainee, who investigators said was also intoxicated.

On Monday, at a hearing that Grismore did not attend, his attorney responded to the only charge against his client.

“We have entered a plea of ​​non-appearance and I am prepared to enter a plea of ​​not guilty on his behalf,” attorney Bob Katims told the judge.

No court conditions were imposed on Grismore and he was released on his own recognizance.

As previously reported by NECN, video footage approved by Langevin for public release showed Grismore appearing to kick the manwhom law enforcement officials called undisciplined.

If he told his version of eventsGrismore explained that he was off-duty but in the office doing paperwork when he became concerned that a person was spitting on him or his co-workers — something he took seriously, telling Northwest Access TV that his father died of complications of COVID-19.

Grismar also disputed the use of the word “punch”, claiming that he kicked the man hard to keep him at a distance because he was spitting.

Despite that defense, new court documents show that Grismore’s own colleagues called his treatment of the man “not cool” and “really aggressive,” with no attempt to defuse the tension.

The case upended the Franklin County sheriff’s race because Grismore looked like a sure thing to win election as sheriff. He was the only name on the ballot and initially had the support of both county Republicans and Democrats.

However, when the video surfaced after the primaries, the parties withdrew their support. In a rare move of unity, they now support Mark Lauer, who is leading a record campaign uphill.

“I’m 110% committed” Lauer told NECN & NBC10 Boston last month in a story about his candidacy.

Reached by phone Monday, Lauer declined to comment on the accusation against his former colleague and current campaign rival.

Another candidate, Gail Messier, is also running for office. Grismore also announced he is staying in the race.

After Monday’s indictment, reporters asked the prosecutor, brought in from another country for independence, about the timing of the criminal charges — so close to Election Day.

“The election had nothing to do with it in terms of my decision,” said Grand Isle State’s Attorney Doug Disabito. “As a state attorney, I don’t care.”

Disabita added that he had no previous relationship with Grismore.

In a written statement to Vermont’s NECN & NBC10 Boston affiliate, NBC5 News, the candidate-turned-suspect said he was “disturbed” by the allegation. Additionally, Grismore claimed he used the minimum amount of force to prevent the handcuffed man from spitting on him.

“While this latest step is regrettable, I look forward to clearing my name once and for all,” Grismore wrote. “I have full faith in our criminal justice system, having served in it for the better part of 25 years, and I am confident that once the facts are out, I will be exonerated swiftly and completely. As my grandfather always said, “Justice will prevail.”

The question for the next two weeks will be whether voters in Franklin County agree that Grismore did nothing wrong.