HURLOCK — A deputy with the Talbot County Sheriff’s Office has been arrested and ordered held without bond after he allegedly physically and sexually assaulted a woman, and threatened her with his service weapon while off duty earlier this year.
Darius Tilghman, 27, who joined the Talbot sheriff’s office in 2014, was jailed in early April after a 29-year-old woman whom Tilghman reportedly has known for years, reported to the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office that Tilghman had assaulted and injured her at least three times between January and April 2020.
The woman told police on April 7 that Tilghman strangled her with a fabric headband “to the point of almost losing consciousness,” pulled her pants down and then threatened her with his service handgun on Jan. 19 while the two were at his home in Hurlock.
She reported that when Tilghman allegedly was aiming the weapon at her he threatened, “Either I shoot myself or I shoot you,” according to court documents.
The woman also reported two other alleged incidents to police that occurred April 6 and 7 at Tilghman’s home. She accused Tilghman of unlocking her car door while she was sleeping in the car in his driveway after she came to his house to address an “ongoing issue.”
The 29-year-old said an argument ensued and Tilghman wrapped his hands around her neck, accosted her face, and pushed her off the steps of his home, causing scrapes and abrasions to her hand and elbow. She also reported Tilghman retrieved his service weapon during the alleged incident but did not threaten her with it.
Responding officers obtained and captured photos of injuries the woman suffered from the alleged altercations. Photos from January reportedly show her having a busted inner top lip, busted blood vessels in her eye and red marks on her neck, according to police reports.
Talbot County Sheriff Joe Gamble said Tilghman immediately was suspended from the sheriff’s office on April 7. His employment status subsequently was changed to suspended without pay on April 13.
Gamble said the suspension was issued in accordance with Maryland law, which “only allows ‘suspension without pay’ when a law enforcement officer is charged with a felony.”
The sheriff noted his department has not received any complaints involving Tilghman’s conduct as an officer with the Talbot sheriff’s office.
Tilghman has been held at the Dorchester County Detention Center since his arrest. He was denied bond on April 10, and his subsequent request for a reconsideration of his bond ruling was denied, as well, court documents show.
In his written reconsideration request to the judges who denied him bond, Tilghman wrote that he “was burglarized” on the dates he is accused of having assaulted the woman. He argued that “the victim in my case was found drunk and asleep in my driveway after breaking into my residence.”
In an interview with Dorchester County police, Tilghman denied the assault allegations against him and denied that he pointed a firearm at the woman, court documents stated.
He reportedly told police that she received her injuries after she fell down the stairs while Tilghman was blocking her from entering his home.
Tilghman's accuser is facing third- and fourth-degree burglary and malicious destruction of property charges in connection with an incident that allegedly occurred on April 6, online court records show.
Documents detailing the burglary accusations against the woman were not obtained by The Star Democrat by press time Tuesday, June 9, but a preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for Thursday, June 11, in Dorchester County.
In April, the woman requested a protective order against Tilghman, which if approved, would require Tilghman to hand over his service weapon. A decision on that request is expected to be made Monday, June 15.
Gamble said Tuesday that if the protective order is granted, Tilghman’s employment with the sheriff’s office will be terminated — regardless of whether he’s convicted in the case — because Tilghman’s inability to carry his service firearm would render him “unable to fulfill the duties of an officer.”
Gamble declined to comment further on the case as it is ongoing, but said “departmental action (will be) taken in accordance with Maryland law.”