Mother of Laramie man killed by sheriff's deputy files federal lawsuit
The mother of a man who was shot and killed by an Albany County sheriff’s deputy two years ago has filed a federal lawsuit against the deputy and others.
September 03, 2020
The mother of a man who was shot and killed by an Albany County sheriff’s deputy two years ago has filed a federal lawsuit against the deputy, the county sheriff, the county commission and other, unnamed officials.
Robert “Robbie” Ramirez was shot and killed by Albany County Sheriff’s Deputy Derek Colling in November 2018 after Colling pulled Ramirez over for failing to signal before he turned. According to the lawsuit, Colling shot Ramirez, who had mental health conditions, once near the armpit and twice more in the back, after Ramirez fell to the ground.
The lawsuit alleges that Colling, who had previously shot and killed two people as a Las Vegas police officer, used excessive and unreasonable force on Ramirez, counter to his training and to federal law. It also alleges that Sheriff David O’Malley and others didn’t discipline Colling afterward, nor was he internally investigated. Rather, the suit alleges Colling was promoted to an investigative unit.
Within the broader protests of police killings elsewhere, demonstrators in Laramie have raised Ramirez’s shooting alongside that of George Floyd, who was killed by a Minnesota police officer, in their protests. Colling had previously been cleared by a grand jury, secretly convened by County Attorney Peggy Trent. Colling’s name has been included in the chants and on signs in Laramie in recent months.
The suit, filed by Ramirez’s mother Debra Hinkel on Tuesday, names as defendants Colling, O’Malley, the commission and 10 unnamed county officials. Messages sent to Trent and to the sheriff’s office were not immediately returned Wednesday.
Noah Drew, one of the three lawyers representing Hinkel in the suit, told the Star-Tribune that “we look forward to telling the story of Robbie and what happened on Nov. 4, 2018,” the day Colling shot and killed Ramirez.
Colling was hired after moving back to Wyoming and attending the law enforcement academy here in 2013. He was fired from the Las Vegas Metro Police Department after an eight-month investigation into the alleged beating of a man who was filming Colling as the then-officer responded to a scene.
In 2006, Colling shot and killed a man accused of threatening two ex-romantic partners, according to the lawsuit. Three years after the first shooting, Colling shot and killed a mentally ill 15-year-old who was standing behind his mother, the suit alleges. He was fired two years later after the beating of the man who filmed him.
The suit alleges that O’Malley “knew or should have known” about Colling’s history and that his decision to hire the deputy was “unduly influenced by his friendship with Defendant Colling’s father, Richard Colling,” who was a highway patrolman. O’Malley was allegedly warned that Derek Colling was a “loose cannon” who had an “out of control temper.”