A white Philadelphia police sergeant made up a story about being shot by a black man while on patrol last month and actually intentionally shot himself, possibly to get attention or a transfer, the city’s police commissioner said Tuesday.
Sgt. Robert Ralston, 46, confessed to making up the story and will have to pay the costs of the massive manhunt that followed, Commissioner Charles Ramsey said. Ralston has been suspended with intent to dismiss, but will not face criminal charges because granting immunity was the only way to obtain his confession, Ramsey said at a news conference.
Ramsey said the case was especially troubling because Ralston, who is white, identified his alleged attacker as black. Ramsey said Ralston apparently did so because the area where the shooting took place is predominantly African-American.
“It’s troubling in a lot of ways,” Ramsey said. “It inflames racial tensions in our community, and that’s certainly something we don’t need.”
A telephone listing for Ralston could not be located and he could not immediately be reached for comment by The Associated Press.
Ralston, a 21-year veteran, told police he was on patrol in the city’s Overbrook section early on April 5 when he stopped two black men for questioning.
He told investigators that one of the men put a gun to his head, but that he knocked the weapon away and suffered a graze wound to the shoulder when it fired, investigators said. Both men fled, he said.
Police combed the neighborhood for hours looking for the men. Officers never stopped or arrested anyone matching Ralston’s description of the alleged gunman, Ramsey said.
Ramsey said, “There’s some speculation he did it to get attention, or to get transferred.”
A message left with the Fraternal Order of Police, which had put out a $10,000 reward for information leading to the alleged suspect, was not immediately returned.