LAKE MATHEWS: Riverside Police sergeant charged with two felonies after physical altercation with juvenile

Trevor Montgomery

Riverside County News Source


LAKE MATHEWS – A Riverside Police sergeant was arrested and charged with two felony counts of child abuse relating to a September incident involving a teenage boy in the unincorporated area of Lake Mathews.

On Dec. 11, Sgt. Benjamin Shafer, of the Riverside Police Department, was charged with child abuse likely to result in great bodily injury and assault likely to result in great bodily injury. Shafer was placed on administrative leave by his department after the District Attorney’s office filed the charges.

The arrest came after a three-month long investigation by officials from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and Riverside County District Attorney’s Office. A separate personnel investigation by the Riverside Police Department is ongoing. Shafer was released from jail after posting $35,000 bond.

According to court documents, deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Perris Station were initially dispatched to Shafer’s home on Sept. 7, after Shafer and an unidentified juvenile male got into a physical altercation. The incident reportedly began over what was described as a “minor accident” in the front yard of Shafer’s residence. The victim’s relation to Shaver was unknown as of this report.

The victim and multiple witnesses told investigating deputies there were two separate violent altercations that occurred between Shafer and the victim. The first incident occurred in front of Shafer’s home following the accident. The second incident reportedly occurred shortly afterwards, inside Shafer’s residence. There were reportedly numerous witnesses to the confrontation that occurred in the front yard and one witness to the incident that occurred inside the residence.

The juvenile told deputies Shafer “smacked” him in the face, “body-slammed” him onto the hood of a car and performed a “leg-sweep” on him as he tried to run away, which caused him to fall to the ground and hit his head. He also alleged Shafer kicked him in the ribs while he was on the ground. According to the victim, he had a pre-existing rib injury that Shafer knew about.

The victim told authorities that after the initial incident, he and Shafer went inside the home where the two were involved in a second violent encounter. According to court records, the victim stated once inside the residence Shafer hit him again, grabbed him by the throat and slammed him against a door frame.

An unidentified adult male who witnessed the incident in the front yard and was also inside the residence when the second incident occurred, called 911 after the victim complained he was having trouble breathing. The witness reportedly told deputies he had seen Shafer forcefully drop his knee into the victim’s side during the altercation in front of the residence.

The victim was transported by ambulance to a local hospital for evaluation and treatment. Court documents indicate a medical examination of the victim showed no significant injuries occurred during the two alleged incidents, however the altercation may have aggravated his prior rib injury.

In an interview with deputies, Shafer admitted he “smacked” the victim and performed a leg sweep on him, saying he did so to prevent the victim from harming himself or Shafer while the two were scuffling during the initial incident. Shafer stated he performed the leg sweep, “so the incident would end.” Shafer denied he kicked or punched the victim and denied slamming him onto the hood of the car. Shafer also denied assaulting the victim inside the house.

Shafer’s arraignment is scheduled at Riverside County Superior Court in Dept. 34 at 8:30 a.m., on Feb. 11.


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