Student says UW police officer dragged him out of class

A senior petroleum engineering student at the University of Wyoming claims he was mistreated by a UW Police Department officer Wednesday afternoon, when he alleges he was “dragged, kicking and screaming” from his class, then tackled.

Garret VonKrosigk said he suffered a seizure in the hallway outside his classroom and awoke surrounded by EMTs and UWPD officers. He said he then returned to class, convinced he was cleared to do so, and that he was steadily recovering.

Chad Baldwin, director of institutional communications at UW, said the student returned to class against the advice of EMTs on the scene. A few minutes after he returned, a UW police officer escorted him out. VonKrosigk said his removal from the class was involuntary and resulted in injuries including a broken wrist and bruising.

Baldwin said VonKrosigk was detained under Wyoming Title 25, which allows for the temporary emergency detention or involuntary hospitalization of individuals who might be a threat to themselves or others.

“For the health and safety of the student and his classmates, he was removed from the classroom and taken to the hospital under the direction of medical professionals,” he said. “The student’s complaints about the officer’s conduct will be reviewed by the UW Police Department, which is a normal practice.”

VonKrosigk said he was preparing to present in front of his senior design class when he felt the combined stress of the presentation and the recent hospitalization of a friend were about to trigger a seizure.

“I’ve had seizures my whole life,” he said. “So, I’m kind of aware if something’s about to happen.”

VonKrosigk said he went into the hallway and laid on a couch. The next thing he said he remembers is waking up surrounded by EMTs and at least one UW police officer. At that point, VonKrosigk said he could not recall his name, address or birth date.

He said he remembers getting agitated and being openly angry the EMTs would not let him immediately return to class.

As he continued asking to go back to class, VonKrosigk said an EMT told him he could return to class if he correctly answered four questions — including his birth date and the president’s name — which he did.

However, VonKrosigk said he could not remember receiving verbal confirmation he was cleared to leave.

“But I do know that the EMTs backed off and let me go back to class,” he said.

Laramie Fire Department Chief Dan Johnson was out of the office Thursday and unavailable to comment about the EMTs’ role.

VonKrosigk said he rejoined his team and prepared to present as another team finished its presentation.

“I wasn’t disturbing the class or anything,” he said. “I was calm. I was complacent. Everything was fine. I was beginning to cool down.”

Tayln Costello, a fellow petroleum engineering major and classmate, said one police officer and two EMTs entered the classroom, told VonKrosigk he would be arrested if he did not allow his vitals to be taken, then forcibly removed him from the classroom.

“(VonKrosigk) started kicking and screaming violently, and they took him into the hallway,” she said. “We didn’t see anything, but we heard him screaming for at least 10 minutes.”

VonKrosigk said he was tackled in the hallway.

“I have a bruised-up face, my ear’s all bruised up and my whole body is sore,” he said. “I have a black eye. My wrist was broken, so it’s in a splint. And I have bruises from where the handcuffs were tightened. My shoulder is all sorts of messed up.”

Baldwin said the responding officer was wearing a body camera — as all UW police officers do — and the footage obtained would be reviewed.

“The health and safety of our students is our top priority,” he said.

VonKrosigk was taken to the hospital and said he remained under police supervision until 4:30 p.m.

In an email to UW President Laurie Nichols, VonKrosigk writes highly of both the university and UWPD, adding his high opinion of the school makes the incident that much harder to bear.

“I feel extremely violated by the school I love,” VonKrosigk says in the email. “I am incredibly embarrassed and this has taken over the excitement I have been feeling from preparing to graduate in a few weeks.”

VonKrosigk said he has contacted lawyers to pursue further action.

(4) comments

Brett Glass

Appalling. The UW Police Department mugged a disabled man WHO WAS COPING ON HIS OWN WITH HIS DISABILITY. This shows the danger of giving corporate entities (which is what UW has, essentially become -- it is run like a self-interested, greedy corporation that's unaccountable to the public) their own police departments.

It is fortunate indeed that the victim is the son of a prominent lawyer in the community, who is sure to take appropriate action.

Pragmatist

Bad situation all around and there is no good solution. The student had a serious health event which triggered certain obligations on the part of officials to make sure he is OK. When they tried to do so, he, unwisely but perhaps understandably, resisted. His violent resistance only confirmed the concern of the officials who were trying to help. Like I said, bad situation. Had the officials walked away and the student passed out and died or injured someone else, what would this story be?
Bottom line seems to simply be: Comply with instructions from the authorities. That classroom presentation could have waited another day or so.

Informed

I have to disagree when the EMTs and UWPD obviously are acting out of their own fear rather than the well being of the student. This is a shame and sickening that they felt the right to treat him in such a way.

nickiefromwyo

I have a family member that has had seizures for most of his life. It sounds like the EMTs and the UWPD need to brush up on their intervention techniques. After the seizure had ended, my family member would be disoriented and need a little time to return to normal. The most effective help for him was to sit with him, tell him what happened, and wait for him to reorient. Ordering him around and making demands was not effective and would just add to the confusion and disorientation.

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