Albany County Paid $1.2 Million To Family Of Man Killed By Deputy

Albany County paid $1.2 million to the family of Robbie Ramirez, who was shot in the back and killed by a deputy in 2018, according to a lawsuit settlement released publicly on Friday.

CM
Clair McFarland

January 20, 20244 min read

Robbie Ramirez with his mother, Debra Henkel. He was killed by an Albany County Sheriff's deputy in 2018 after a traffic stop.
Robbie Ramirez with his mother, Debra Henkel. He was killed by an Albany County Sheriff's deputy in 2018 after a traffic stop. (Via Facebook)

Albany County paid $1.2 million to the family of a man killed by a sheriff’s deputy five years ago, but did not admit to any wrongdoing, the county announced Friday evening.

Former Albany County Sheriff’s Deputy Derek Colling shot and killed Robert “Robbie” Ramirez, 39, during an incident following a traffic stop Nov. 4, 2018.

Ramirez’s mother Debra Hinkel sued Colling, the county and former Albany County Sheriff David O’Malley in 2020.

Two years later, the parties had reached a settlement agreement, but it was confidential.

Then in August 2023, the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled in a different case that settlement agreements involving public money are public records.

Pressed by the media, Albany County turned to its local district court for clarity.

District Court Judge Misha Westby dismissed the county’s request for clarity because the judicial process was not followed according to Wyoming public-records law.

The county’s new sheriff, Aaron Appelhans, released the settlement publicly Friday after receiving “no clarification” from the court and after Hinkel announced via her attorney that she wanted the settlement to be made public.

Hinkel was Ramirez's wrongful death representative in the lawsuit.

Her attorneys, Noah Drew, Alicia Evans and Roy Jacobson Jr. of the Spence Law Firm, could not be reached Friday evening for comment.

What It Says

Appelhans noted in a press release he dispatched along with the settlement that nobody in the lawsuit admitted any liability or wrongdoing.

The payment was a gesture to end the lawsuit, the settlement indicates. It reads: “This Agreement is a good faith compromise … to avoid the delay, inconvenience, expense and uncertainty of further litigation.”

Appelhans’ statement says there was “no legal basis” for Hinkel’s earlier allegations that body camera footage of the incident had been tampered with.

The sheriff’s office also agreed to continue its crisis intervention training for deputies, though agreeing to do so did not create new liabilities for the department, the settlement says.

The parties were to pay their own attorneys' fees, the settlement says.

‘Unarmed Yet Confrontational’

Video footage showing the death of Robbie Ramirez revealed he was “unarmed yet confrontational in the moments before he was fatally shot,” the Laramie Boomerang reported 10 days after Ramirez’s death.

The Boomerang reporter had viewed Collings’ body cam footage, the story reports, adding that, “Colling unsuccessfully tried to deploy his Taser before drawing his gun and firing multiple shots at close range.”

Ramirez had fled from Colling’s traffic stop, then blocked the deputy’s Taser electrodes.

Colling’s camera “appears to show a scuffle between the two before the video cuts out,” the Boomerang reported. The officer’s dash-cam video showed Ramirez advancing toward Colling, who reportedly walked backward while firing multiple shots at close range.

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Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter