An attorney representing police officers involved in Sunday’s shootout in Casper said the man who fired at police refused to talk, and when confronted by officers, pulled a gun and shot at them.
Don Fuller, who often represents police officers after shootings, said the man considered himself part of the sovereign citizenship movement. Sovereign citizens typically do not recognize the authority of federal, state or local governments.
“He fancied himself as sovereign,” Fuller said.
The man who fired at police died from gunshot wounds at the scene. Authorities identified him as David P. Wolosin, 38, of Casper.
Video taken during the shooting and obtained by the Star-Tribune shows Wolosin lying on his side, firing at officers who are crouched behind a white sedan. He pushes himself backward through the dirt while exchanging gunfire with police. Officers raise themselves above the trunk and hood of the vehicle to fire.
Wolosin is finally hit and lies motionless, the video, which was shot from across the street by a witness, shows.
The video below depicts the shooting. It may not be appropriate for all readers.
One of the officers was struck five times and taken to Wyoming Medical Center, where he received “immediate, life-saving treatment for his injuries,” the department said in a series of statements released Monday. That officer remained in critical condition Monday afternoon after receiving multiple blood transfusions.
Fuller told the Star-Tribune he visited the scene of the shooting on Sunday afternoon. The shootout took place in a dirt lot near Fairdale Park, not far from the intersection of Beverly and 15th streets.
The man who shot at police was teaching children, one as young as 3, to drive, Fuller said.
Two police officers arrived at the dirt lot on Sunday afternoon and confronted Wolosin because a child was driving a sedan under the man’s supervision, Fuller said. The man refused to talk to police and made a phone call. Wolosin took a couple of steps away from the officers, and when they tried to stop him, he turned, pulled a pistol and began firing, Fuller said. In a statement, the Casper Police Department said the man “unexpectedly” drew his gun.
While retreating, an officer was shot in the back, Fuller said. Police had not fired on the man before the officer was hit.
Fuller declined to name the officers who were involved.
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When asked about officers taking cover behind a vehicle that was occupied by children, Fuller said, “there was no other option.”
The children were uninjured, according to an eyewitness who spoke the Star-Tribune on Sunday.
“That’s what we know so far: These officers were left with no choice and they acted heroically,” Fuller said.
The Southern Poverty Law Center states that sovereign citizens, “believe that they — not judges, juries, law enforcement or elected officials — get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore.”
According to the FBI, sovereign citizens are “anti-government extremists,” who “believe they don’t have to answer to any government authority.”
Fuller’s account is the most detailed description of the moments leading up to the gunfight made public.
Neighbors gave accounts to the Star-Tribune on Sunday that were consistent with parts of the narrative provided by Fuller. They also described seeing Wolosin teaching two children to drive in the dirt lot.
One witness said police pulled up in a parking lot above the dirt patch and shouted at Wolosin to stop the car. The man stopped and spoke with the officers, then made a phone call, the witness said.
The neighbor had turned around when he heard shots being fired. When the neighbor looked again, police were using the Wolosin’s car as cover while they exchanged gunfire with the man. Wolosin was shot and fell.
Another neighbor said he heard gunshots and saw police crouching behind the car, exchanging gunfire with police. Wolosin continued to fire his gun even after being shot, the neighbor said.
The Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation is examining the shootout, as is typical when officers are involved in shootings. A DCI commander handling press inquiries was not available for comment Monday.
Sunday’s incident is the second police shooting in east Casper in just over two months. In late February, police shot and killed a man carrying a sword after he threatened a clerk at a gas station on 15th Street and Wyoming Boulevard. Natrona County District Attorney Michael Blonigen cleared the two officers who were involved and concluded the man, Douglas Oneyear, provoked the confrontation in an effort to end his life. Fuller represented the officers involved in that shooting.
Oneyear’s family maintains the officers could have resolved the situation without killing him.