Jacob Carlson, the Casper police officer gravely wounded in a May shootout, will return to work next week.
On Nov. 1, Carlson will return to work in a limited duty capacity. He will help the career services division with recruiting and background checks, he said by phone.
Police Chief Keith McPheeters confirmed Carlson’s work plans Thursday afternoon. He said Carlson would temporarily take a position in career services while the officer and police command staff work to find him a more permanent home.
“We’ve been working hard to get to this point,” McPheeters said. “It’s a good place for him.”
Because one of the agency’s highest priorities is filling open positions, career services was a logical place to put Carlson, McPheeters said.
The cop’s return to the force is the latest in an ongoing saga that began nearly six months ago.
Carlson was injured May 6 after David P. Wolosin, 38, of Casper drew his gun and shot Carlson in an east Casper dirt lot. After an exchange of gunfire, Officer Randi Garrett shot and killed Wolosin.
In the days following the shootout, Carlson received more than 100 units of blood and blood products. His heart stopped multiple times on an operating room table. He was not released from Wyoming Medical Center for more than a month.
On July 30, Chief Keith McPheeters awarded him a Purple Heart and Medal of Valor — the latter is the department’s highest honor — in an emotional ceremony at David Street Station in downtown Casper. Roughly 1,000 people attended.
In mid-August, Carlson told the Star-Tribune that McPheeters had demanded he return to work against the advice of his doctors. His attorney, Don Fuller, penned a letter to the chief and Casper City Council, stating his client should not be required to return to work or take a pay cut. The lawyer asked in the letter if Carlson would be required to pay to replace his gun damaged in the shootout.
In a morning press conference the next day, city officials said Carlson remained on administrative leave — allowing him to draw a full salary without working or taking vacation days. When asked about a letter signed by McPheeters and stating Carlson was to return to work, City Manager Carter Napier said it had been drafted but never sent out.
Later the same day, McPheeters said at a press conference that he failed to effectively communicate with Carlson.
City and police officials the next week agreed to give a Carlson eight more weeks of paid leave.
Carlson said Thursday that Dr. Darren Bowe, the trauma surgeon who handled much of his care, expects him to spend between six months and a year working in limited duty. After that time, he should be prepared to return to the street.
The department is buying Carlson a replacement for his disabled Smith and Wesson, he said. And the cop is looking forward to being back to work.
“I’m ready to do something,” he said.