Thermopolis Cop Who Triggered Fatal Shootout Cleared By Town, Back On Full Duty

The town of Thermopolis announced Tuesday that it disagrees with a special prosecutor's opinion that Sgt. Mike Mascorro illegally entered a suspect's home to trigger a fatal shootout in April 2023, and has reinstated Mascorro back to full duty.

Clair McFarland

June 05, 20245 min read

Thermopolis Police Sgt. Mike Mascorro, right, has been cleared by the town of any wrongdoing in a fatal April 2023 shootout with a suspect.
Thermopolis Police Sgt. Mike Mascorro, right, has been cleared by the town of any wrongdoing in a fatal April 2023 shootout with a suspect. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

The town of Thermopolis, Wyoming, on Tuesday cleared a police sergeant of wrongdoing and returned him from administrative duty to full duty more than a year after the sergeant broke into a suspect’s home and triggered a fatal shootout.

Sgt. Mike Mascorro broke into the Thermopolis home of Buck Laramore without a warrant April 28, 2023, to arrest Laramore for police interference for giving Mascorro inaccurate information during a drug investigation earlier that day.

Laramore shot Mascorro through the lung. The sergeant returned fire, killing Laramore.

Months later, special prosecutor Dan Erramouspe determined that Mascorro was not criminally chargeable for homicide because of a provision of state law protecting police officers on the job, even when they act outside the law.

But Mascorro entered Laramore’s home illegally in the first place, Erramouspe concluded.

The town of Thermopolis disagrees with the special prosecutor’s opinion that Mascorro’s entry of the home was illegal and elevated Mascorro back to full duty Wednesday.

The town had placed Mascorro on administrative leave, then administrative duty last autumn after Cowboy State Daily broke the story of Erramouspe’s decision.

“Mayor Adam Estenson, with the counsel and guidance of Town Attorney Marshall Keller, has completed an extensive review of the DCI investigation, state statutes, case law and town policies,” says a Tuesday statement by the town leaders. “This decision was not made lightly or rashly. In this research and due diligence, Mayor Estenson believes returning Sgt. Mascorro to full duty is prudent, responsible and in the best interest of the community of Thermopolis.”

Mascorro returned to his full duties Wednesday, the statement adds.

Well, That’s Different

Estenson is quoted in the statement, saying he and Keller spent more time on the issue than Erramouspe and arrived at a “different legal opinion” than the prosecutor did.

The town’s opinion is that Mascorro entered Laramore’s home legally.

Specifically, the town’s statement says Mascorro had “exigent circumstances” to justify his entry into Laramore’s home, and that Laramore retreated into his own home “to do harm.”

Erramouspe did not find exigent circumstances justifying Mascorro’s entry, and instead called the break-in an avoidable incident and a product of Mascorro’s “poor judgment.”

Erramouspe told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday that it’s possible for people to differ from his legal opinion, though he’s worked in criminal law for nearly three decades.

“I understand they have to do what they feel is necessary in their review of the case,” said Erramouspe. “However, I have 28 years’ experience in criminal law, which I don’t believe Mr. Keller does, nor does the mayor.”

Yet, Erramouspe added, “they have to make these decisions based on what they think is in the best interest of their community.”

Erramouspe has worked in criminal defense and as a prosecutor, and now serves as the Sweetwater County attorney.

Nobody Told Us Otherwise

Wyoming’s Peace Officers and Standards Training (POST) entity investigated Mascorro before his shooting and cleared him of wrongdoing in other controversial incidents.

After the shooting, POST started investigating Mascorro again.

The town’s statement says POST has finished that investigation and “did not revoke Sgt. Mascorro’s certification,” and has sent its findings to the Wyoming Attorney General’s office.

The statement says the AG won’t tell the town if she wants to have a hearing on Mascorro’s police certification until, “at best guess, January.”

Attorney General Bridget Hill told Cowboy State Daily in an email that the January timeline is "not accurate."

"The timeline for making such determinations is much shorter," wrote Hill. "I otherwise have no comment to make as this is a pending matter."

POST Director Chris Walsh did not immediately return a Cowboy State Daily voicemail requesting comment Wednesday.

In the meantime, the Wyoming Local Governmental Liability Pool (LGLP) is reviewing Thermopolis’s policies and creating model policies for all the towns it insures, the statement says.

The statement says neither POST nor the LGLP have advised Thermopolis leaders to remove Mascorro from duty, “thus forcing the town to review this matter on its own.”


Mascorro's attorney, John Worrall, told Cowboy State Daily he's pleased for his client.

Apparently, (the city attorney, mayor and council) decided that their research and examination of the facts of the matter yielded a different result than the superfluous opinion rendered by Mr. Erramouspe in his analysis of whether to charge Sgt. Mascorro with a crime which he declined to do," said Worrall in a Wednesday email.

He pointed to Erramouspe's decision that Mascorro was justified in shooting back at Laramore, but said Erramouspe's opinion about the legality of Mascorro's entry "is not a reason, it seems, for keeping him behind a desk when the Town needs its officers on the street."

Erramouspe's "unsolicited opinion about the legality of (Mascorro's) entry was beyond Erramouspe’s engagement and, other than to stir up a lot of angst and difficulty, is of no consequence to the matters at hand," Worrall added. "Obviously, the Town agrees with my assessment. In the end people will have different opinions about things. The legal determination remains that Sgt. Mascorro was justified in his use of deadly force in this matter."

Note: This story has been updated to reflect post-publication statements by Mascorro's attorney John Worrall and Attorney General Bridget Hill.

Clair McFarland can be reached at

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter