LARAMIE — Some Albany County residents have formed a group to encourage an “open and transparent investigation” of the Nov. 4 sheriff’s deputy shooting of Laramie resident Robbie Ramirez.
Albany County for Proper Policing, or ACoPP, has been demanding more transparency with the investigation, including release of peace officer footage.
“We first started ACoPP very shortly after Robbie was killed,” ACoPP member Karlee Provenza said. “This was really early on when all we knew was an unarmed male who suffered from mental illness was shot by law enforcement. I felt like we needed to figure out the facts to make sure this doesn’t fall through the cracks and that people in Albany County are aware of the incident with the facts and not just what we’re told happened.”
On Nov. 14, the Albany County Sheriff’s Office elected to show dash camera and police body camera footage of the shooting — in which Albany County Sheriff’s Cpl. Derek Colling shot and killed Ramirez — to members of the media. However, the footage has not been made available to the public. ACoPP formed a petition and collected about 600 signatures calling for the public release of the footage from the peace officer recordings.
“Releasing the footage would allow for the public to hold our county officials accountable for how they proceed with the incident and would shed some light as to what happened that day,” said Provenza. “Because it was already shown to the media and select press, that has allowed the media to kind of shape a narrative. We think the most transparent thing they could to is allow the public to see it, since they are willing to show it [to the media].”
The petition — which about a dozen members of ACoPP submitted to the Albany County Clerk’s Office last week — also called for the release of any records that may exist of Colling’s prior misconduct, disciplinary incidents and citizen complaints during his time in law enforcement in Albany County.
Colling fatally shot a teenager in 2009 and was later fired from Las Vegas’ police department in 2011 after beating a man who was filming police. Despite Colling’s history, the group is not publicly calling for information from his time as a law enforcement officer in Las Vegas, Provenza said.
“We do want to know all the details we can get, but we think that how Cpl. Colling’s been policing here would possibly shed some light into what that norm is,” Provenza said. “Because of his colorful past in Las Vegas, we think that his job is to protect and serve the people of Albany County, and we want to know if he’s doing that. What does his job look like overall, and also in light of this incident?”
In a Nov. 14 media release, ACoPP cited a Wyoming law passed last year which allows for police body or dash camera footage to be released “if the information involves an incident of deadly force or serious bodily injury” or “in the interest of public safety.”
However, Albany County Attorney Peggy Trent denied ACoPP’s petition and request for public release of the peace officer recordings to the public or media because it may affect evidence still being processed as part of the investigation by the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation. The media’s viewing of the incident Nov. 14 was a one-time occurrence.
In a letter to ACoPP posted to ACoPP’s Facebook page, Trent said releasing the footage would “compromise the integrity of the entire investigation and potential prosecution.”
“Additionally, our office will not be releasing the personnel file of Corporal Derek Colling as its release is contrary to state law and requires a court order for its release,” Trent’s letter said.
Provenza said ACoPP is working on drafting its response to Trent’s letter.
“I don’t know if I can say right now exactly what we’re going to do, but we’re making plans,” Provenza said. “There are a couple courses of action people can take to get that footage released. We’re trying to keep this as transparent with the public as possible. We’re not done.”