Lawsuit Claims Wyoming Game Warden Wrongfully Detained Hunters
A lawsuit filed in Park County claims a game warden wrongfully detained two out-of-state hunters before they were "maliciously" charged and acquitted.
The complaint states Dr. Blendi Cumani and Ronald Shehu were on a guided hunting trip on Heart Mountain when Wyoming Game and Fiwronsh Game Warden Chris Queen began investigating them based on inaccurate reports into the killing and wasting of three elk in the area.
According to the suit, Queen wrongfully detained Cumani and Shehu by ordering them to remain in Park County until he completed his investigation.
The suit claims Queen's investigation failed to develop evidence that showed Cumani or Shehu committed any sort of crime.
But that didn't stop Queen from submitting an affidavit of probable cause to the Park County and Prosecuting Attorney's Office. Eventually, the case was prosecuted, the complaint states.
Both Cumani and Shehu pleaded not guilty and requested jury trials. A jury found them not guilty following a trial that took place from September 1-4, 2020.
"As the direct and proximate result of the acts and omissions of WGFD Warden Queen and others with whom he acted in concert in investigating, instituting, and maintaining these false arrests and wrongful criminal prosecutions, Dr. Cumani and Mr. Shehu were placed in and personally experienced substantial fear of being imprisoned and of having their professional and personal reputations irreparably damaged," the suit states. "As the direct and proximate result of the acts and omissions of WGFD Warden Queen and others with whom he acted in concert in investigating, instituting, and maintaining these false arrests and wrongful criminal prosecutions, Dr. Cumani and Mr. Shehu were forced to retain legal counsel and to incur defense costs, and substantial cost to each."
In a motion to dismiss, the State of Wyoming claimed that Shehu and Cumani waited too long to file their suit. According, to the state's response, Shehu and Cumani had one year from their acquittal date — September 4, 2020 — but did not file a complaint until January 21, several months after the statute of limitations expired.
But a timeline provided by attorneys for Shehu and Cumani states they gave notice to the state in July 2021 that they intended to file a claim. The state filed a notice that Shehu and Cumani's claim was deficient, "despite not having legal authority," their attorneys argue.
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