York County suspect broke deputy’s hand in attack. He’s heading to prison

A York County man who broke a police officer’s hand during an attack in January has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Dennis Ashley Matthews, 41, pleaded guilty Friday to resisting arrest and malicious injury to property, according to York County court records.

Matthews pleaded guilty under an Alford plea, according to court records. In an Alford plea, a suspect does not have to admit guilt but accepts the likelihood he would be convicted if the case went to trial, court officials said. Sentencing for an Alford plea is the same as any other guilty plea.

Matthews broke the hand of York County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Travis Shealey, said Sharon Ohayon, 16th Circuit assistant solicitor. Matthews attacked Shealey as officers were trying to take Matthews into custody, Ohayon said.

Shealey recovered from his injury and remains on the job, said York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson. In 2016, Shealey was awarded “Officer of the Year” by a civic group for his work in the community. In 2013, he was awarded the sheriff’s office lifesaving award.

Tolson said Shealey is a dedicated officer and the case shows the dangers police have in dealing with dangerous suspects. Tolson said he is thankful for the sacrifice and dedication of Shealey and others who serve the public.

“I hope the sentence in this case sends the message that resisting officers will not be tolerated, and that this is a reminder of the constant danger of this occupation,” Tolson said after court.

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Andrew Dys covers breaking news and public safety for The Herald, where he has been a reporter and columnist since 2000. He has won 51 South Carolina Press Association awards for his coverage of crime, race, justice, and people. He is author of the book “Slice of Dys” and his work is in the U.S. Library of Congress.