YORK COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — The York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office is responding to an arrest video gone viral.
In the video, a citizen steps in to help deputies arresting a man at the Yorktown Walmart.
It’s sparked controversy because in the process of the arrest, the suspect may have been put in harm’s way as the citizen’s knee is pressed down on the man.
The video that’s now been shared more than a thousand times was recorded by a woman named Dana Grey on February 1.
“Can he breathe? Can he breathe?” shouts Grey in the video.
Grey says she started recording when she noticed two police officers and a civilian pinning down a man in the Walmart parking lot.
She says she saw they were all punching the man on the ground and she was concerned for his safety.
“For crying out loud the guy was already on his stomach, why are you punching him? Why are you tasing him? Why do you need the assistance of a … non law enforcement officer to help you apprehend this man?” asked Grey.
Grey says she continued to record as the officers put the man in handcuffs, the civilian walked away, and medics arrived.
“He has no affiliation with law enforcement, and that to me right there off bat is unwanted assault. The fact police officers would allow that to happen under their supervision. I really don’t trust it,” she explained.
However, the York County Sheriff, Danny Diggs, says that’s not what happened, and talked to 10 On Your Side to tell their side of the story.
Diggs says the man who was arrested is 41-year-old Raymond Tyrone Ralph.
Police say right before Grey started recording the incident, Ralph was wanted for a shoplift in progress.
They say Ralph got just outside of Walmart with a tote full of stolen items when he ditched the cart and took off running.
“He runs, jumps over a curb into a car, and falls down on the ground himself, so when we get to him he’s already down on the ground and it’s in between some cars, it’s kind of a tight space.”
Another gentleman comes up and says ‘hey do you need some assistance because the suspect is actively resisting'” Diggs stated.
Diggs says the officers accepted the help until they were able to cuff Ralph, but no excessive force such as punches or a TASER was used.
“We didn’t slam him on the ground, he was on the ground when we got to him, he tripped and fell as he was avoiding arrest, we never tased anybody. We hate for somebody to put out a false narrative that then increases the negative perception of police,” Diggs said.
Diggs says Ralph didn’t suffer any serious injuries and was released from the hospital after 30 minutes, but had that been different the sheriff’s office would assume liability.
“You don’t think any excessive force was used in this case?” asked 10 On Your Side.
“No, I think the minimum amount of force was used,” replied Diggs.
Diggs says he’s grateful to the man who helped his deputies.
Police say Ralph is now facing obstruction of justice and 3rd offense shoplifting charges.
10 On Your Side viewed Walmart’s surveillance video, and one of the officer’s body camera footage.
The sheriff’s office edited the surveillance footage inside the Walmart for time’s sake but showed us the complete body camera footage.
Only one officer’s body camera was activated because the other didn’t turn it on properly.
We confirmed the sheriff’s narrative, but did not hear the verbal exchange of the man asking permission to intervene.
10 On Your Side also reached out to Ralphs’s lawyer and have not heard back.
WAVY App users can watch the full video at this link.