By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The mother of a man killed by a former Albany County sheriff’s deputy in 2018 is suing several people, alleging that they were involved in the destruction and alteration of video and audio evidence from the shooting.
Debra Hinkel’s lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court on March 10. Her son, Robbie Ramirez, was shot and killed by former deputy Derek Colling in November 2018.
Hinkel is suing Colling, former sheriff David O’Malley, the Albany County Board of Commissioners and current Albany County Sheriff Aaron Applehans. However, the lawsuit does note that the motion is not actually directed at Applehans, who took over for O’Malley after the Ramirez shooting.
Colling, who was a corporal with the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, shot and killed Robbie Ramirez, 39, during an altercation that occurred after a traffic stop in November 2018. He was cleared of wrongdoing in the incident by a grand jury.
In the lawsuit, Hinkel alleges that the defendants, excluding Applehans, deleted five “crucial” seconds of video footage from Colling’s body camera and deleted audio from his dash camera footage, thereby “severely” hindering Hinkel’s ability to show that the shooting was not justified.
She also claims that the county commissioners presented the altered copies of both videos to the public, and assumes this is the same evidence presented to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation and the grand jury that cleared Colling.
“The ‘copy’ of Deputy Colling’s body camera ends one second before Colling opened fire on Ramirez,” the lawsuit states. “Because Colling’s body camera was set up to track the movements of his firearm, the five seconds of deleted footage likely would have shown Ramirez badly wounded and face down on the ground when Colling killed him with two shots to the back.”
Hinkel additionally alleged that the Albany County Sheriff’s Office removed the audio from Colling’s dash cam footage.
The lawsuit also notes that Albany County Sheriff Lt. John Beeston testified to intentionally deleting the original body camera and dash cam footage less than a year after the shooting took place.
“It is unclear what this video showed, but at a minimum, it would have shown Colling’s demeanor and actions on the morning of the shooting,” the court documents state.
Colling and O’Malley disputed Hinkel’s claims in court documents filed on Friday.
Colling also shot and killed a 15-year-old boy in 2009 while working as a police officer in Las Vegas, a shooting that led to a lengthy lawsuit. He was fired from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in 2011 for an alleged assault of a videographer trying to film police work, according to WyoFile.
Colling resigned from the sheriff’s office in June 2021.
Hinkel previously filed another lawsuit regarding her son’s death, calling it a miscarriage of justice.