A May shooting in Casper left a police officer critically injured — and now city leaders are exploring whether it’s legal to give financial compensation to employees who are almost murdered on the job.
At the City Council’s Tuesday work session, Councilman Dallas Laird proposed giving $25,000 to any city employee who someone attempts to kill while working. He said victims likely need extra money as they struggle to mentally and physically heal.
“I’ve spent 47 years of my life as a lawyer representing people who have been injured, so I’m aware of what these folks go through. We rely on these employees to run our city and we need to take care of them,” Laird later told the Star-Tribune.
Laird said Friday that the two officers involved in a May 6 shooting in east Casper should both receive this extra funding. Experiencing this type of trauma can cause long-lasting psychological damage, he explained.
The attorney said he does not believe it would be unlawful to include this as a benefit in employees’ contracts.
But Councilman Bob Hopkins has questioned the legality of Laird’s proposal. He pointed out that city officials are not permitted to indiscriminately hand out money.
The Council ultimately instructed City Attorney John Henley to research whether there was any way to legally establish financial bonuses for employees who are victims of a serious attack.
Vice Mayor Charlie Powell said Friday that state statute prohibits city officials from giving money directly to an individual or company, with the exception of nonprofits. But he said he still believes the issue is worth exploring.
“I think the intent is obviously goodhearted and if it’s possible [to do legally], then I would certainly consider it,” Powell said.
Council members would also need to work through some other details before approving the proposal, according to the vice mayor.
“How would you decide exactly what constitutes a serious enough injury that would trigger this?” he asked.
Powell added that he is proud of everyone in the community who stepped up to help Officer Jacob Carlson, who was shot four times in the gunfight, which left his assailant dead.
After Carlson arrived, the man, 38-year-old David Wolosin, began moving away from the officers. When Carlson reached out to grab him, Wolosin pulled out a pistol and began firing. Both officers shot back, with Garret firing the shot that killed Wolosin.
Carlson required multiple surgeries and received more than 100 units of blood. He spent a month in Wyoming Medical Center and is still recovering from the injuries.
Mayor Ray Pacheco previously told the Star-Tribune that he was shocked when he received the news while grocery shopping with his family. This is the first time an officer has been severely wounded in the line of duty since Pacheco began serving on the council.
At a meeting in May, the mayor urged the community not to let the incident fade from memory.
“My hope is that we don’t forget this,” he said. “That we don’t forget the dangers that our police officers go to every single day and that we continue to keep them in our prayers.”