Mother of Albany County Man Sues Deputy Who Shot Him to Death, County Officials
The mother of the Albany County man who was shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy nearly two years ago has sued him, the sheriff, the county commissioners and others for his wrongful death and violating his constitutional rights, according to her complaint filed in federal court on Tuesday.
An unarmed Robert "Robbie" Michael Ramirez was shot three times -- twice in the back -- and killed in front of his home by Albany County Sheriff's Deputy Derek Colling for failing to signal a left turn on Nov. 4, 2018, according to the complaint by mother Debra Hinckel's attorneys Roy Jacobson, Noah Drew and Claire Fuller of the Jackson-based Spence Law Firm.
Albany County Attorney Peggy Trent then defended the justice system did not fail when a grand jury declined to indict Colling in early 2019.
The complaint said the investigation by the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation was flawed, alleging Sheriff David O'Malley and others manipulated the grand jury's work.
Trent said in an email late Tuesday that she had not yet been served with the lawsuit.
Ramirez and Colling knew each other from childhood. While enrolled at the University of Wyoming, Ramirez was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, which according to the National Alliance on Mental Health, is a chronic mental health condition characterized primarily by symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations or delusions, and symptoms of a mood disorder, such as mania and depression. Ramirez was taking medication for his illness, according to the complaint.
Hinckel is suing Colling, O'Malley, the commissioners and John Does I-X for violating the civil rights guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment including Colling's use of excessive force, according to the complaint.
"Defendant Colling's actions, as described herein, were motivated by malice and/or involved deliberate, reckless or callous indifference to Robbie's federally protected rights," the attorneys wrote.
Hinckel alleges O'Malley, the county and the John Does followed inadequate hiring procedures because Colling had a history of excessive force with the Las Vegas Metro Police Department including shooting to death two individuals and assaulting a bystander who video-recorded an incident with him.
The Albany County Sheriff's Office in 2014 defended hiring Colling.
Hinckel also seeks damages for the defendants allegedly setting policies that led to the deadly force and wrongful death, and punitive damages.
Hinckel notified Albany County earlier this summer that she intended to sue and would ask for $20 million in damages. The lawsuit filed Tuesday did not specify an amount of punitive damages (they would be determined at trial), but did demand at least $75,000 in non-economic damages.
However, her attorneys want punitive damages that will send a message.
"The gross, reckless, inhumane, tortious, and intentional acts and omissions of Defendant Colling, Defendant O'Malley, and Albany County John Does I-X constitute a willful and wanton disregard for the life and safety of Robbie, thereby 'shock[ing] the conscience,'" they wrote.
"To deter the individual defendants and others from committing the same or similar misconduct, which endangers the public's general safety, Plaintiff is entitled to recover exemplary and/or punitive damages."
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