Sheridan officer allegedly uses a chokehold on a shoplifting suspect

A Sheridan police officer has been suspended pending an assault investigation for allegedly putting a shoplifting suspect in a chokehold.

An arrest warrant was issued last week for Shawn Ralph, 50, who has been with the department for three years. Ralph turned himself in to authorities Tuesday night. He was arrested, made bond and was released, according to the police department.

On Sept. 3, Ralph allegedly used a chokehold on a shoplifting suspect who spit in the officer’s face, according to an arrest affidavit. The incident happened in the 3400 block of South Federal Boulevard outside a 7-Eleven store.

The woman was in custody and handcuffed when she attempted to spit at a store staffer, the affidavit said. Instead, the suspect spit in Ralph’s face, who was between the woman and the staffer. Ralph then grabbed the suspect by the neck, forcing her head back and pushing her backward, taking her to the ground.

“Once on the ground Officer Ralph’s body camera captures (the suspect’s) face while his hand is around her neck,” the affidavit said. The woman “is wincing and appears to be in pain as if being choked or from her head striking the ground.”

Other officers were at the scene and gave statements as part of the investigation. The suspect was taken to a hospital, treated, released and arrested on suspicion of shoplifting. Using a chokehold is violation of Sheridan police policy, the affidavit said.

On Wednesday, police released a written statement on the incident.

“I was concerned with the incident and immediately initiated an investigation,” said Chief Jeffrey Martinez, in the statement. “We believe in the integrity of both the criminal and administrative process and will withhold judgement until both are completed.”

The Arapahoe County District Attorney’s Office has reviewed the incident and charged Ralph with one count of attempted second-degree assault – strangulation, heat of passion — a Class 6 felony. He is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 28.

 

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