Friends, Supporters Rally On Albany County Courthouse Steps, Remembering Laramie Man Shot By Deputy

Nov 5, 2019

Credit Tennessee Watson / Wyoming Public Radio

Monday marked a year since Albany County Sheriff's Deputy Derek Colling shot and killed Robbie Ramirez, an unarmed man with mental illness. The police accountability group which formed after Ramirez's death is still seeking action from county officials and hosted a rally on the courthouse steps Nov. 4.

Robbie Ramirez supporters and friends were demanding the removal and decertification of Deputy Derek Colling, who is still with the Sheriff's Office, now as a detective.

Colling shot Ramirez three times following a traffic stop near his home, including twice in the back. The shooting occurred during an altercation with Colling. Ramirez was unarmed. A grand jury chose not to indict Colling and a state investigation also cleared him.

Those seeking consequences for Colling or changes to law enforcement practices in Albany County were again rebuffed when the county commission declined to form a citizen-run police oversight committee activists were calling for.

Those gathered in front of the courthouse Monday had a moment of silence lasting 19 seconds. That's the amount of time between when Colling stepped out of his car and when he fired his first shot.

Karlee Provenza runs the group Albany County for Proper Policing, or ACOPP.

"ACOPP's origin is Robbie Ramirez," Provenza said before the rally. "But we don't want to have another Robbie Ramirez. We don't want to have another instance of an unarmed man with mental illness shot and killed in our community and we believe that's avoidable through oversight."

Colling previously shot and killed two others while working for the Las Vegas police, and was fired from that department a few years later for beating a bystander who was filming him. Some Laramie residents raised concerns about Colling's past when the Sheriff's office hired him in 2014, but Albany County Sheriff O'Malley defended the decision.

"The fact that he was terminated didn't give me any real pause because they didn't move to decertify him as a law enforcement officer," O'Malley told KOWB at the time. "All law enforcement officers in the United States are certified through what they call POST, Peace Officer Standard and Training Commission, and if you don't believe that a person has any business in law enforcement, then you move for decertification. If they had done that, I couldn't have considered Derek."

The rally was followed by a vigil at Ramirez's home.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Jeff Victor, at jvictor@uwyo.edu.