Mother Of Laramie Man Killed By Deputy Wants More Evidence To Go Public

The mother of a Laramie man shot and killed by an Albany County deputy in 2018 says that although county paid $1.2 million to settle her lawsuit, there’s even more important evidence about her son’s death the public needs to know.

CM
Clair McFarland

February 01, 20243 min read

Debra Hinkel and her son, Robbie Ramirez, who was shot and killed by a Wyoming sheriff's deputy during a traffic stop in 2018.
Debra Hinkel and her son, Robbie Ramirez, who was shot and killed by a Wyoming sheriff's deputy during a traffic stop in 2018. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

The mother of a Laramie man shot and killed by an Albany County Sheriff’s deputy in 2018 says although her civil lawsuit over the shooting has been settled, the allegations she made about evidence tampering in her son’s case was never disproved.

And she said the public has a right to know.

She is asking Albany County to push the court to make public confidential evidence from her lawsuit against it.

Debra Hinkel, mother of Robbie Ramirez, 39, lauded Albany County Sheriff Aaron Appelhans’ Jan. 19 release of a previously confidential settlement agreement between Albany County and Hinkel. The settlement, which resulted in Albany County paying $1.2 million to Ramirez’s family, concluded Hinkel’s 2020 lawsuit against the county, former Sheriff David O’Malley, and former Deputy Derek Colling.

Colling shot and killed Ramirez, who was unarmed and reportedly mentally unstable, following a traffic stop in 2018.

Besides the payout, the sheriff’s office also committed to crisis intervention training for deputies. It did not admit to any liability for wrongdoing, but agreed to the settlement to avoid the uncertainty of future litigation.

Appelhans’ decision to release the confidential document was in response to the Wyoming Supreme Court, which ruled in a separate case in 2023 that lawsuit settlements involving public money are public documents.

More, Please

Hinkel now is asking for the revelation of other confidential evidence from her civil lawsuit in the U.S. District Court, and for Albany County to ask the federal court to lift the protective order keeping that “substantial” evidence private.

“She calls on Albany County to petition the federal court to lift the Protective Order and shine light on the evidence she uncovered in the lawsuit,” reads a Wednesday statement written on Hinkel’s behalf by her attorneys, Roy A. Jacobson Jr., Noah W. Drew and Alicia Evans of The Spence Law Firm. “In her opinion, the release of the Settlement Agreement is only a small part of what the public needs to know.”

Case Ended Before The Argument Did

Hinkel’s statement reflects a favorable view of Appelhans, who was not sheriff when Ramirez was killed.

The statement does take issue with the county’s claims there was “no legal basis” for Hinkel’s earlier allegations that body camera footage of the fatal incident had been tampered with.

The court dismissed that issue because the case reached settlement May 2, 2022 – one day before the parties were set to attend a motions hearing in Hinkel’s case – not because there was no evidence of tampering, Hinkel opined.

“In Ms. Hinkel’s opinion, the dismissal of the motion was simply technical and not meritorious as there was ‘no legal basis’ to go forward with the motion – it was moot,” says the statement.

Hinkel’s statement also says she hopes state and county authorities “learn from this tragic story and work to ensure mental health crises don’t result in police shooting deaths.”

Albany County Attorney Kurt Brizius, whose office represents the county and sheriff in legal matters, did not immediately respond Wednesday afternoon to a Cowboy State Daily voicemail requesting comment.

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

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter