Cop Who Shot Laramie Man Argues Qualified Immunity In Wrongful Death Lawsuit

A former Albany County sheriff's deputy is arguing he is exempt from a lawsuit filed over his fatal shooting of an unarmed motorist in 2018.

Ellen Fike

March 25, 20223 min read

Laramie cop

A former Albany County sheriff’s deputy is arguing he is exempt from a lawsuit filed over his fatal shooting of an unarmed motorist in 2018.

Derek Colling, who shot and killed former Laramie resident Robbie Ramirez in 2018, said in his latest motion in the lawsuit that as a government official, he enjoys “qualified immunity” from lawsuits filed over his actions while on duty. As a result, he is seeking a summary judgment in his favor from the federal court in the lawsuit filed against him by Ramirez’ mother.

Colling shot Ramirez three times after a traffic stop in Laramie in November of 2018. Ramirez was shot after being tasered by Colling.

Ramirez’s mother, Debra Hinkel, filed a lawsuit against Colling, former sheriff David O’Malley, the Albany County Board of Commissioners and current sheriff Aaron Appelhans, claiming excessive force was used against her son, that the sheriff’s office used inadequate hiring practices in hiring Colling and then failed to properly train him.

But Colling, in his request for a summary judgment in his favor, said videos of the incident showed he was acting appropriately.

“Video footage of the incident shows that Colling acted appropriately and that there was no constitutional violation,” documents filed in U.S. Court on March 18 said. “The use of force in response to Ramirez’s actions was not excessive, but justified and objectively reasonable under the circumstances.”

Colling said Ramirez attacked him, which then led to the shooting. His request for a summary judgment denied that he used excessive force.

Hinkel, in her lawsuit, has claimed that defendants 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.

Colling’s request did not address the allegation.

Both O’Malley and the county commissioners have also filed documents asking a judge to rule in their favor in the lawsuit.

Before joining the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, Colling shot and killed a 15-year-old boy in 2009 while working as a police officer in Las Vegas, an incident that led to a lengthy lawsuit. He was fired from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in 2011 for the alleged assault of a videographer trying to film police work, according to WyoFile.

Colling resigned from the sheriff’s office in June 2021.

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Ellen Fike