A police officer in Sheridan was suspended for allegedly locking a suspected shoplifter in his throat, pending investigation of the attack.
An arrest warrant was issued last week against Shawn Ralph, 50, who has worked in the department for three years. Ralph surrendered to the authorities on Tuesday night. According to the police station, he was arrested, released on bail and released.
According to the arrest testimony, on September 3, Ralph allegedly used a lock hose on a suspect of shoplifting, who spit on the police officer’s face. The incident occurred outside a 7-11 convenience store in the 3400 block of South Federal Boulevard.
The affidavit stated that the woman was detained and handcuffed when she tried to spit at the clerk. Instead, the suspect spat on Ralph’s face, and Ralph is between the woman and the staff. Then Ralph grabbed the suspect’s neck and forced her to push her head back, pushing her to the ground.
“Once on the ground, Officer Ralph’s body camera captured (the suspect’s) face while placing his hand on her neck,” the affidavit said. The woman “was cowering and seemed to be in pain, as if she was suffocated, or because her head hit the ground.”
As part of the investigation, other officials were also at the scene and issued statements. The suspect was sent to the hospital for treatment, released and arrested on suspicion of shoplifting. The affidavit stated that the use of chokes violated Sheridan police’s policy.
On Wednesday, the police issued a written statement on the matter.
“I am concerned about this incident and immediately launched an investigation,” Chief Geoffrey Martinez said in the statement. “We believe in the integrity of the criminal and administrative procedures and will suspend the sentence until both are completed.”
The Arapaho County District Attorney’s Office reviewed the incident and charged Ralph with a second-degree attempted assault—strangulation, passion—a sixth-degree felony. He is scheduled to appear in court on September 28.