Casper, Officers Deny They Violated Rights of Man Killed in Shootout
The City of Casper and two police officers reject any wrongful death claims by the brother of a man killed in a shootout in May 2018 and have asked a federal court to dismiss his lawsuit.
Daniel Wolosin -- representing himself and eight other family members -- claimed the officers acted unlawfully, lacked training, and deviated from law enforcement practices when they shot his brother David during a confrontation in May 2018, according to his lawsuit filed in November.
David Wolosin had the right to carry a weapon and use it in self-defense, had the right to be free from unconstitutional searches and seizures, and the right to due process, Daniel Wolosin wrote.
He is seeking $500,000 in damages for his family members but not himself.
But the attorneys for the City of Casper, police department and officers Jacob Carlson and Randi Garrett in two separate pleadings responded that Daniel Wolosin has little if any grounds in fact or in law to make his claims.
The attorneys -- Hampton O'Neill for all defendants, and Senior Assistant Attorney General Brian Marvel for the officers -- argue the court should dismiss Wolosin's lawsuit on these grounds:
- He did not provide an adequate factual basis for his complaint.
- The officers acted properly under the doctrine of "qualified immunity," meaning public officials are protected from individual liability unless they violated clearly established rights.
- Wolosin, who is representing himself, does not have the legal grounds to pursue his wrongful death claim resulting from the confrontation on May 6, 2018.
That afternoon, Garrett responded to a report of a man, later identified as David Wolosin, allowing a small child drive a sedan in a vacant lot near Fairdale Park. Another child was in the car, and both children were nephews.
Carlson soon arrived at the scene as a backing officer.
Video released by the Casper Police Department shows Carlson walking from his patrol car to the white sedan, where Garrett is already speaking with David Wolosin. As the encounter continues, Carlson begins speaking to Wolosin, who is talking on a cell phone with his left hand and tries to back away.
The video shows Carlson trying to grab Wolosin, who pulls out a gun and fires at Carlson, who falls to the ground.
More gunfire is exchanged and the officers take cover behind the car with the children still inside. A round from Garrett's gun killed Wolosin.
A joint investigation from the Natrona County District Attorney's Office and Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation cleared Garrett and Carlson of any wrongdoing.
Daniel Wolosin, according to Marvel's response, alleged:
- The officers failed and/or violated training standards.
- They violated David Wolosin's constitutional rights by using unreasonable force.
- David Wolosin did not make "any threatening gestures ... or actions" towards the officers.
- He did not "pose an immediate threat to the safety" of the officers or others.
Marvel wrote that these allegations are unsupported by evidence, such as David Wolosin not posing an immediate threat to the officers. In fact, if the other allegations are true, they in fact show he did pose a threat and that he used deadly force against the officers.
Daniel Wolosin even admitted that his brother acted suspiciously by refusing to speak to and cooperate with the officers, retreating when approached, and eventually exchanging gunfire, Marvel wrote.
Marvel and the other attorneys also argue that Daniel Wolosin cannot make a wrongful death claim because he's not saying his rights were violated, but that others' rights were violated.
"Furthermore, neither Wolosin nor any family member may utilize a claim of excessive force against the Decedent as a basis for a wrongful death claim," Marvel wrote.
That also raised another problem: Wolosin may represent himself in court, but he cannot represent others, such as his family members.
That would mean he is acting an attorney, which he is not, O'Neill wrote.
"Finally, Mr. Wolosin may also be violating Wyoming's unauthorized practice of law ... which further complicates his efforts to represent all the claimants in this case," he wrote.