A Philadelphia police sergeant who said he was shot last month by an unidentified black man in the city's Overbrook section actually fabricated the entire story and shot himself, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said this morning. Sgt. Robert Ralston, a 21-year veteran of the department, admitted to homicide detectives early this morning that his previously reported story was false.
Ramsey called the incident "a terrible and embarrassing chapter in our history." Asked why Ralston concocted the tale and injured himself, Ramsey said he didn't know.
Allison Steele, a writer for the Inquirer, reported on Tuesday:
Ralston will be suspended for 30 days with the intent to dismiss, Ramsey said. Ralston, married with five children, will face no criminal charges in the case, because he was offered immunity in exchange for his confession.
Ralston will also have to pay the cost of the massive manhunt that was sparked by his tale on April 5, Ramsey said.
In a frantic search for the MUBM, police spent hours combing a West Philadelphia neighborhood for possible suspects, although no one was formally questioned or arrested. The Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge No. 5, had even posted a $10,000 reward for information leading to the suspect.
Ralston's original story was that he was on patrol in the early hours of April 5, when he stopped two men for questioning. One of the men ran; the other man, drew a gun and put it to Ralston's head, he told police. Ralston said he knocked the gun out of the way and it went off, grazing him in the shoulder. He told police he shot at the man as he ran off and possibly struck him.
Steele reports that Ralston's story was suspect from the beginning. She states, "Police said the facts of the case just didn't add up. There was powder residue on his shirt that matched his own service weapon, indicating he was shot at close range. His reaction to the shooting also drew suspicion, and police said he seemed eager to cast himself in the role of a hero."
Ralston apparently described his assailant as black, because the area where the shooting took place is predominantly African American, the commissioner said.
Ramsey said Ralston's badge number would be retired, and that no other officer would ever wear the same number.
"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."
Ramsey stated that it was fortunate that officers never stopped or arrested anyone matching Ralston's description of the gunman.
Most recently, we had the white guy who dressed up as a MUBM to rob a bank; we remember Susan Smith, who drowned her two kids and blamed the MUBM; and let's not forget the Boston murderer Charles Stuart who killed his pregnant wife and blamed it on the MUBM.
Look, white people, it's 2010. We are all on to the MUBM by now.
Haven't you heard about the boy who cried wolf? Will you please blame your foolishness on someone else? I just hope the citizens of Philadelphia make certain that Ralston's suspension "with intent to dismiss" ends in a true dismissal.
Don't you realize, officer, that not only did you perpetuate the worst racial stereotype, but you now make it harder for me when a real MUBM snatches my pocketbook?
Shame on you, officer Ralston.
ETA: to close my html fail