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Crime and Courts

Sheridan police officer faces assault charge after allegedly choking shoplifting suspect

Officer Shawn Ralph has been placed on leave

This story first appeared in a Colorado Community Media newspaper. The Colorado Sun is an owner of CCM.

Sheridan police Officer Shawn Ralph faces an attempted assault charge and has been placed on administrative leave after allegedly choking a woman accused of shoplifting earlier this month while he was on duty.

According to a statement from Sheridan police Chief Jeffrey Martinez, officers detained the woman at a 7-Eleven store in the 3400 block of South Federal Boulevard north of West Hampden Avenue on Sept. 3 at about 1:30 a.m.

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An arrest affidavit obtained by local news outlets said Ralph and another officer believed the woman was acting suspiciously. The store owner indicated to the officers that the woman had taken items without paying and, according to the affidavit, officers handcuffed the woman after some resistance.

Officers sat the woman outside on a curb, but she eventually got up and walked toward the store owner, prompting the officers to intervene, the affidavit said.

The document said the woman spat and saliva landed on Ralph’s face.

Ralph then grabbed the woman by the throat, choking her and forcing her on to the ground, the affidavit said. His hand was around her neck for about 5 seconds, according to the affidavit.

The woman was taken to a hospital but was not injured.

“Other officers who were present, including a supervisor, took immediate physical action to intervene in the incident and deescalated the situation,” Martinez, the police chief, said in a statement.

According to Sheridan Police Department spokesperson Amy Woodward, officers immediately reported the incident to higher ups while on scene.

Senate Bill 217, the sweeping Colorado police reform measure signed into law in June 2020, bans officers from using neck holds against suspects.

‘We believe in the integrity of both the criminal and administrative processes and will withhold judgement until both are completed,” Chief Martinez said in his statement. “I want to assure our community the Sheridan Police Department is committed to providing outstanding service, transparency, and safety to the community we serve.”

Read more at coloradocommunitymedia.com.


Colorado Sun reporter Jesse Paul contributed to this report.