May 12th, 2010
06:02 PM ET

A Police Officer’s White Lie

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/05/12/art.sgt.robert.jpg caption="Sgt. Robert Ralston's claim that an assailant shot him sparked a search for a phantom suspect." width=292 height=320]
Program Note: For Randi Kaye’s full report, Watch AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

Randi Kaye
AC360 Correspondent

His name is Sgt. Robert Ralston. He’s a 21-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department, but he’s about to lose his job.

Ralston, who is white, is going to be fired for making up a story about a black man who shot him.

Why he did it is still unclear. But Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey says after hours of interrogation, Sgt. Ralston admitted he fabricated the whole story.

We tried reaching Ralston so he could explain, but were unable to. We tried to talk to Sgt Ralston at his home in Philadelphia but he ducked inside and didn’t answer questions. Numerous phone calls also went unreturned.

Here’s what we know: On April 5th, about 4am, Sgt. Ralston radioed that he’d been shot. He said he had approached two black men in the Overbrook section of town, where the 19th precinct is located. He said one of them ran away, and the other tried to shoot him but he knocked the gun away. It fired anyway, he claimed, grazing his left shoulder. He had a wound to prove it. His fellow officers spent hours searching for the man with the gun based on the sergeant’s description. Even the SWAT teams were fanned out. They never found anyone matching the description.

Now we know why. They were looking for a phantom suspect.

Why would this police veteran, with a wife and five kids, lie about being shot by a black man? Police say he may’ve been looking for attention or a job transfer, but whatever the reason, he’s going to be billed for the massive manhunt the city took part in after Sgt. Ralston was shot.

The police commissioner said this is one of the most “embarrassing” moments in the department’s history. He’s so disappointed in Sgt. Ralston that his badge will be retired for good.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Randi Kaye
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    Sounds like the guy needs some sort of therapy because he must have a problem to have done something like this. I feel for his family though – they are going to suffer too with him unemployed and having to pay the city for the manhunt. After working 21 years for the police department I'd think they would want to have him see a therapist and see if any work related incidents led to this behavior; it might help them in preventing someone else from doing the same thing.

    May 12, 2010 at 7:26 pm |
  2. JThomasTyson

    He was looking for the greatest attention possible. And proclaiming to be shot by a black man, more than likely would garner the attention he wanted. Not that being shot by a white man wouldn't grab any attention. But in that city if you wanna make it happen, claim a black person did it. Instant attention!

    May 12, 2010 at 7:26 pm |
  3. Berta

    He's been on the force for 21yrs? Something is wrong, either financially,marital or job stress. I'm just glad there wasn't anyone picked up on these erroneous charges and it ended before it began. If it was a financial stress now that just got bigger!

    May 12, 2010 at 7:19 pm |
  4. chocolatsunrise

    Many police officers are double-covered or even triple-covered by insurance in the event they are injured and can receive large amounts of money. He may have been looking for a quick check and got caught.

    May 12, 2010 at 7:14 pm |
  5. sophia

    So did they recover a bullet? Someone shot a gun and he wad hit so who was it and why?

    May 12, 2010 at 7:13 pm |
  6. silk

    It's too bad that he'll throw his career away for such a stupid lie. Did he ever think of what will that do to his family, which probably depend on his pension after he retires?

    May 12, 2010 at 7:09 pm |