By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A Park County judge dismissed a claim of malicious prosecution two hunters brought against the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, but he allowed wrongful arrest and detention claims, recent court filings show.
In mid-May, Judge Bill Simpson dismissed the malicious prosecution claim, citing a one-year statute of limitations that has since passed. But he allowed wrongful arrest and detention claims to move forward.
Blendi Cumani of North Dakota and Roland Shehu of Pennsylvania filed the claims and are asking for damages in the amount of $2 million each for “past and future emotional pain and suffering and past and future loss of enjoyment of life.”
Cumani and Shehu allege that while hunting in Park County in October 2019, Wyoming Game and Fish Department Warden Chris Queen began an investigation into the killing and abandonment of three elk in the area.
Wyoming state law forbids the “failure of any person to properly dress and care for any big game animal killed by that person, and if the carcass is reasonably accessible, within 48 hours to take or transport the carcass to the camp of that person, and there properly care for the carcass.”
According to the lawsuit filed in state district court in Park County, the warden detained Cumani and Shehu, ordering them to remain in the county during his investigation and preventing them from returning to their homes.
The men argued in the lawsuit that the warden’s investigation failed to show they shot the elk and evidence proved they did not, but Queen pursued criminal charges against the two.
After a September 2020 jury trial, Cumani and Shehu were found not guilty of killing the elk.
The men argued that Queen did not have probable cause to detain or arrest them and that this violated their constitutional rights. The $2 million each damage claims are for past and future emotional pain and suffering and past and future loss of enjoyment of life.
It was not clear if the person who shot the elk was ever identified or charged.