Albany County Settles Lawsuit for $1.2 Million in 2018 Deputy-Involved Shooting

LARAMIE, Wyoming — Albany County recently reached a settlement of $1.2 million in a lawsuit related to the fatal shooting of Robbie Ramirez in 2018. Ramirez, a 39-year-old man with a history of mental illness, was unarmed when he was shot by former Albany County Sheriff’s deputy Derek Colling. The settlement agreement was made public following a ruling by the Wyoming Supreme Court, which stated that settlement agreements involving government agencies are considered public records.

The lawsuit, filed in 2020 by Ramirez’s mother, Debra Hinkel, named Colling, then-Sheriff Dave O’Malley, and Albany County as defendants. In the settlement, the Albany County Sheriff’s Office did not admit guilt or wrongdoing in the incident, according to current Sheriff Aaron Applehans, who took office in 2022.

The agreement includes various provisions, including the payment of $1.2 million to the Estate of Mr. Ramirez. It also stipulates that the Albany County Sheriff’s Office will continue its crisis intervention training for deputies, and acknowledges that there was no legal basis for evidence tampering. The payment will be made once the U.S. District Court issues an order denying the plaintiff’s Motion for Default Judgment.

The shooting of Ramirez highlights ongoing concerns about police use of force and the treatment of individuals with mental health issues. The settlement provides some measure of accountability and compensation for Ramirez’s family, but it does not erase the tragedy or the questions surrounding the incident.

It is worth noting that Derek Colling, the former deputy involved in the shooting, is no longer employed by the Albany County Sheriff’s Office. While the settlement brings some closure to this particular case, it also serves as a reminder of the need for continued efforts to improve law enforcement practices and address the complexities of mental health crises.

The public release of the settlement agreement sheds light on an issue that was previously kept confidential. This newfound transparency is an important step towards accountability and ensuring that settlement agreements involving governmental agencies are subject to public scrutiny. It allows for a greater understanding of the circumstances surrounding Ramirez’s death and the steps being taken to prevent similar incidents in the future.

The tragic shooting of Robbie Ramirez will forever be a part of Albany County’s history. However, through this settlement and the commitments outlined within it, there is hope for progress and positive change. The impact of this case extends beyond the confines of Albany County, serving as a reminder of the ongoing need to address systemic issues within law enforcement and promote accountability and justice.