By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Albany County’s former sheriff, a former deputy and the county’s board of commissioners are asking a federal court to reject a woman’s argument that a video of the deputy shooting her son in 2018 was altered to remove evidence.
In three separate motions filed this week in U.S. District Court, the Albany County Board of Commissioners, former deputy Derek Colling and former sheriff David O’Malley asked that the court deny a motion for summary judgment in favor of Debra Hinkel, the mother of Robbie Ramirez.
Hinkel, in her request for a summary judgment filed in March, alleged that video from the incident had been altered, so she is entitled to a summary judgment in her wrongful death lawsuit against the three.
But all Colling and the commissioners denied the video had been changed.
“[Hinkel] has employed a discovery tactic of ‘catch me if you can,’ as it relates to a conspiracy theory, unsupported by evidence, that has been perpetuated by [Hinkel] that Colling engaged in serious misconduct in the events that led to the justifiable shooting of Robbie Ramirez,” documents filed on behalf of Colling said.
“Simply put, [Hinkel] is attempting to muddy the waters enough to overcome Colling’s meritorious qualified immunity argument,” the documents said.
Colling, who was a corporal with the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, shot and killed 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 filing by county commissioners, attorneys the attorneys called Hinkel’s claims “physically and technologically impossible” and “outrageous.”
“The body camera video cannot be edited or deleted with the use of the viewer,” the board’s court documents said. “Deputy Colling did not have the capability, knowledge or intent to modify the dash camera video footage or the body camera footage at the scene.”
In her request for a summary judgment, Hinkel alleges that the 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.
She also claims that the county commissioners presented the altered copies of both videos to the public, and said she assumes this is the same evidence presented to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation and the grand jury that cleared Colling.
O’Malley’s attorneys argued there was no evidence showing that he was complicit in any alleged altering of the videos.
“[Hinkel] cannot show that Sheriff O’Malley is responsible in any way for any supposed manipulation of the body worn camera, even assuming it happened, or that he had an intent to deprive [Hinkel] of any information,” the documents filed on behalf of O’Malley said.
Hinkel additionally alleged that the Albany County Sheriff’s Office removed the audio from Colling’s dash cam footage.
Colling 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.