Sheridan, CO – A Sheridan police officer has been charged with assault for allegedly putting a chokehold on a suspect who had just spit on his Face
The incident occurred at about 1:30 a.m. on Sept. 3 at the 7-Eleven store located in the 3400-block of South Federal Boulevard, KUSA reported.
The arrest affidavit said the shoplifting has been an ongoing problem at that convenience store.
Sheridan Police Officer McClay observed a female behaving suspiciously and attempted to detain her, KDVR reported.
The affidavit said the suspect resisted arrest until Officer McClay was able to get her into a wristlock.
Sheridan Police Officer Shawn Ralph, 50, arrived first on the scene to back up Officer McClay, and then two more officers responded to assist, KDVR reported.
Officer Ralph interviewed the store clerk about the thefts and the brought the clerk outside to identify the stole items.
That’s when the suspect -who has since been identified as Benni Montano – got aggressive and launched herself at the 7-Eleven employee, KDVR reported.
The affidavit said one officer grabbed Montano by her right arm, and another grabbed her by her left arm.
Officer Ralph stepped in front of the suspect and that’s when she spit at him, according to arrest documents.
The affidavit said that Officer Ralph was hit with saliva in his face near his eye, KDVR reported.
“The officer reacted to the assault by allegedly grabbing the female party around the front of her neck and forcing her to the ground,” Sheridan Police Chief Jeffrey Martinez explained in a post to the department’s official Facebook page.
“Other officers who were present, including a supervisor, took immediate physical action to intervene in the incident and deescalated the situation,” Chief Martinez said.
The police chief said the supervisor and other officers on the scene intervened quickly and “reported the incident to command level personnel at the Sheridan Police Department.”
He said he immediately initiated an investigation and placed Officer Ralph on administrative leave pending its outcome.
Then Chief Martinez sent the findings of his investigation to the Arapahoe County District Attorney’s Office so prosecutors could make a charging decision, the social media post explained.
Sheridan Police Officer Shawn Ralph is accused of grabbing the neck of a shoplifting suspect after she spat at his face, according to court documents.
— Kelly Reinke (@KellyReinkeTV) September 15, 2021
Police officials have said there is bodycam video of the incident, but they are not yet ready to release it to the public.
The affidavit said the bodycam showed that Officer Ralph grabbed the woman by the neck with his left hand and grabbed her left arm with his right hand, according to KDVR.
Charging documents also said the woman appeared to be in pain after Officer Ralph took her to the ground as he appeared to put his other hand on the suspect’s hand on her neck, KDVR reported.
The affidavit said that one of the other officers intervened at that point and removed Officer Ralph from the suspect while telling him to “relax,” the video showed.
The other officers on the scene took the suspect – who had a felony warrant for her arrest – into custody, KDVR reported.
The affidavit said paramedics took the woman to the hospital before she was released back to the officers and booked into the jail.
Officer Ralph was charged with second-degree assault in connection with Montano’s arrest, KDVR reported.