Notice of $20M lawsuit filed in Wyoming deputy shooting

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — The mother of a man shot to death by a sheriff's deputy has given formal notice she intends to file a $20 million wrongful-death lawsuit against a Wyoming county.

Albany County commissioners acknowledged Tuesday receiving the notice filed by Debbie Hinkel. State law requires people to file such a notice before suing a governmental entity.

Albany County sheriff's deputy Derek Colling fatally shot Robbie Ramirez of Laramie after a traffic stop in 2018. Ramirez, 39, had driven away during the stop and the two scuffled after Colling caught up with Ramirez a short time later.

Ramirez had a variant of schizophrenia and feared police because of previous run-ins with them, relatives said after the shooting.

Colling was involved in two fatal shootings while working as a police officer in Las Vegas. He was fired from the Las Vegas Police Department in 2011.

In the notice, Hinkel alleges Colling's termination in Las Vegas followed an “eight-month investigation surrounding charges of use of excessive force, police brutality, and false arrest.”

In hiring Colling, the Albany County Sheriff's Office was negligent in assessing Colling's fitness to serve, evaluating his “past pattern of excessive force,” and in training and supervising him, Hinkel alleges.

She claims Sheriff David O'Malley had been warned Colling possessed an “out-of-control temper rendering him unfit to serve in law enforcement,” the Laramie Boomerang reports.

A grand jury declined to indict Colling for shooting Ramirez. Colling remains a corporal in the sheriff's office.

County officials will discuss the potential litigation and recommend how to proceed, Albany County Attorney Peggy Trent said.

The notice prompted Hinkel to step down as chairwoman of the county mental health board.