Footage released of Sheridan officer accused of using chokehold

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DENVER  |  Police in Sheridan on Tuesday released body camera footage involving an officer accused of putting a woman suspected of shoplifting in a chokehold.

A judge ordered the footage in the case of Sheridan Officer Shawn Ralph to be made public last month in response to a request from Colorado media outlets under a new law that generally requires footage to be released within 21 days of a request.

Ralph is accused of using the chokehold on Sept. 3 after the handcuffed woman spit in his eye as she was apparently aiming at a store worker, who had confronted her about the alleged theft, according to an arrest affidavit. After looking at footage from all four officers there, police said it appeared that Ralph’s left hand went toward her neck, with the web of it near her windpipe and his fingers and thumb on either side of her neck for about five seconds. His other hand eventually rests on top of his left, appearing to support it. A sergeant either knocked or pulled Ralph’s hands away from the woman’s neck, the document said.

One of the four videos released of the incident briefly shows an officer’s gloved hands near the woman’s neck before the camera moves away.

In a statement to police, Ralph said that he reached his gloved hand toward the woman’s mouth to stop her from spitting more but she pulled back, causing his hand to slip to her chin, the affidavit said.

A message left for Ralph’s lawyer, Zach Wagner, seeking comment was not returned.

 

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Joe Felice
Joe Felice
2 months ago

A person “suspected” of something does not deserve to be mistreated. Especially in the case of the minor offense of shoplifting. If apprehended, police should just take the person into custody. If the person spits at the officer, he can charge that person with assault and resisting arrest, but still doesn’t have the right to mistreat the person and punish her on the spot. Punishment is to be meted out by the court. When are police going to get it? A civilian may react instinctively by lashing out, but an officer is supposed to be trained to react differently/better. (Of course, with the paucity of officers these days, agencies hire almost anyone, even those with criminal histories, and provide little “training.”) It’s the same thinking and attitude that causes police to shoot people on the spot, often illegally. (Again, remember that we have been led to believe that officers are above the law.)

And aren’t chokeholds illegal now? Or does that just apply to the biggies–you know, Denver and Aurora?

Dale G Nichols
Dale G Nichols
2 months ago
Reply to  Joe Felice

Well said.

Don Black
Don Black
2 months ago

More absurdity here. First, George Floyd was not killed with a chokehold. There are legitimate rules that most training supplies that would eliminate chokes in cases other than a violently resisting subject where other means have been tried and failed or were not feasible. Second, in struggles, an officer often reaches for whatever he can grab. These are not chokes. Just grabbing someone around the neck or by the neck is not a choke. The front page of the newspaper had a female high school wrestler with her arm around another girl’s neck. If all of this is so deadly, then I guess we need to prosecute all kids wrestling with each other. Next, the police reform bill has made the use of force rules so vague that other officers have to report and react in situations that they fear an uninformed public will interpret wrong. It doesn’t matter if the force wasn’t excessive. They now have to fear being prosecuted because the uninformed media, citizens, or prosecutors will think it is excessive. So, they have to inform on other officers even when they did nothing wrong. There are times when you have to grab someone by the throat. You just don’t know it. There are times when you grab for whatever you can in the struggle. Couple all of this with the fact that officers only receive a small fraction of the use of force training they need, and you have a recipe for misunderstanding by the public and bad outcomes. If you don’t give them the training they need and then want to hold them to your uninformed judgments, they had best not do anything.

R. Punko
R. Punko
2 months ago
Reply to  Don Black

Police must keep their hands off of everyone. Use de-escalation methods such as calm talk, being polite by addressing alleged offender as SIR or Mam’am. Police must stop arresting people for minor infractions. They must never knock anyone down no matter what.
If alleged offender refuses to cooperate the police must just let them go. Never ever chase anyone and never use a gun, even if the alleged offender threatens the police office. The officer must then back off and walk away.