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Sheridan police release body cam footage in alleged chokehold incident

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Posted at 12:20 PM, Nov 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-03 14:22:30-04

SHERIDAN, Colo. — Body cam footage of an alleged chokehold incident by a Sheridan police officer on a shoplifting suspect was released Tuesday.

The video of the Sept. 3 incident shows police arresting a woman suspected of shoplifting at a 7-Eleven on Federal Blvd.

The woman, who was handcuffed, is seen spitting on an officer and then being taken down to the ground in an apparent chokehold by the officer, who was later identified as Shawn Ralph, 50.

Watch a portion of the video in the player below. Warning: Strong language.

Body cam footage of alleged chokehold incident

Ralph was charged with attempted second-degree assault, which is a class 6 felony. Colorado law prohibits officers from using chokeholds on people after lawmakers passed Senate Bill 217 last year.

The sergeant at the scene intervened and told Ralph to “relax” and took Ralph’s hands off the woman, who complained about hitting her head on the pavement. She was taken to Swedish Medical Center for an evaluation and was released “without any noted substantial injury,” according to an affidavit.

Written reports by the sergeant, the clerk, Ralph and the other officer at the scene all gave similar accounts that Ralph had grabbed the woman’s neck – except for Ralph’s, which said, “I reached for [the woman’s] mouth with my gloved hand. [The woman] moved backwards as I tried to cover her mouth, making my hand slip from her mouth and onto her chin.”

The sergeant wrote, “Officer Ralph grabbed [the woman’s] right arm and put his left hand around her throat and took her to the ground…”

The clerk said that Ralph “applied a chokehold,” and the other officer wrote that Ralph “had a hold on [the woman’s] neck area with one of his hands.”

Ralph turned himself in to Glendale police on Sept. 14, and was booked, posted bond and released. He remains on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.