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Douglas Oneyear

Douglas Oneyear stands in a church on the morning of Feb. 25, 2018. That night he was shot and killed by police not far from the east Casper apartment where he lived. His mother has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court.

Two Casper police officers denied claims filed by the family of a Casper man alleging they violated his constitutional rights when they shot and killed him early last year.

Jonathan Schlager and Cody Meyers made the assertion in a response filed in federal court Wednesday to a civil lawsuit brought by the family of Douglas Oneyear. Schlager and Meyers shot Oneyear on Feb. 25 in east Casper. Police encountered him carrying a sword on 15th Street near Wyoming Boulevard after responding to a report of an assault at a nearby gas station.

Then-District Attorney Michael Blonigen ruled in March that Oneyear confronted the cops with the intent of ending his own life and declined to prosecute them.

On the anniversary of Oneyear’s death, attorney Todd Hambrick filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the dead man’s mother, alleging the police officers violated Oneyear’s constitutional rights and caused his wrongful death. Hambrick argues that the sword Oneyear carried was a toy and police could have used less-lethal alternatives to shooting the man.

The lawsuit also accuses the city of Casper, Casper Police Department and Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy of failing to properly train officers and implement policies that would have prevented Oneyear’s death.

In Wednesday’s response, lawyers for the two officers also dispute Hambrick’s claim that the sword is a toy and that Oneyear was not committing a crime at the time of the shooting. The cops’ lawyers also argue that Hambrick did not properly follow the Wyoming Governmental Claims Act, which sets forth procedures to sue government entities under state law. The police officers also argue they acted “in good faith and based upon good cause, consistent with federal and Wyoming law.”

The response is filed only on behalf of the officers and generally declines to comment on allegations made against the other defendants.

The academy earlier this month asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit against it, arguing that it is immune to such claims under federal and state law. On Thursday, Hambrick filed a response to the academy’s request stating he would remove the claim against the academy and instead file claims against unnamed employees of the academy.

Hambrick amended his initial filing the same day, making the specified change.

The police department and city have yet to file responses to the lawsuit.

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Crime and Courts Reporter

Shane Sanderson is a Star-Tribune reporter who primarily covers criminal justice. Sanderson is a proud University of Missouri graduate. Lately, he’s been reading Cormac McCarthy and cooking Italian food. He writes about his own life in his free time.

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