Video footage showing the death of Robbie Ramirez reveals the 39-year-old Laramie man was unarmed yet confrontational in the moments before he was fatally shot by Derek Colling, a deputy in the Albany County Sheriff’s Office.
In response to a public outcry over the circumstances of the Nov. 4 shooting, local reporters were shown footage of Ramirez’s final minutes from Colling’s body-worn camera and his vehicle’s dash cam.
During a confrontation between the two, Colling unsuccessfully tried to deploy his Taser before drawing his gun and firing multiple shots at close range.
An investigation into the shooting by the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation is ongoing.
Albany County Attorney Peggy Trent said copies of the footage would not be distributed to the public, though Ramirez’s family also reviewed the footage Tuesday.
As reporters and county employees were shown the footage at the courthouse, Undersheriff Josh DeBree discussed the contents, explaining step-by-step the protocols officers follow when dealing with a circumstance like the one Colling encountered after initiating a traffic stop on Ramirez.
At Trent’s urging, however, DeBree would not say whether Colling’s actions during the incident were fully compliant with protocol.
DeBree also declined to comment on aspects of the investigation outside what is shown in the footage. He said he had not talked to Colling about the shooting.
Once the DCI investigation is complete, DeBree said more information would be released.
“I’m deeply saddened for the loss of Mr. Ramirez,” DeBree said. “I’m also saddened for how this has had an effect on Corporal Colling, his family and the community as a whole.”
Colling’s dash-cam footage begins as Ramirez drove west on Grand Avenue at just about 15 mph.
The low-rate of speed, DeBree said, is “a thing that would catch your attention” as a police officer.
Ramirez then made a late left turn onto 21st Street, only partially making his way into the left-turn lane before leaving Grand Avenue.
DeBree said Ramirez’s driving would seem to indicate either intoxication or a medical emergency.
Colling then initiated a traffic stop as Ramirez turned east onto Garfield Street.
Ramirez pulled over quickly and appropriately, but as Colling approached the passenger side window, Ramirez refused to roll down the window.
During that period, Colling repeatedly told Ramirez to roll down the window. Instead, Ramirez yelled back through the glass, questioning why he was pulled over.
In what DeBree called an “uncertain, rapidly-evolving situation,” Colling appears to reach back and put his hand on his gun a few times as he waits for Ramirez to roll down his window.
Colling putting his hand on his gun in that circumstance, DeBree said, was reasonable.
“(That situation) is not common for a traffic stop,” DeBree said.
Something was clearly wrong, he said.
Ramirez then abruptly drove away and pulled into a parking lot northwest of Games Gauntlet.
Meanwhile, Colling called for emergency backup, ran back to his vehicle, followed Ramirez and blocked the man’s truck in.
Blocking Ramirez’s truck, DeBree said, was an appropriate step to prevent a further pursuit.
Ramirez then exited his truck and began shouting at Colling.
Colling drew his Taser and yelled repeatedly at Ramirez for the man to put his hands above his head.
“Get your hands up now,” Colling yelled three times.
When Ramirez didn’t comply, Colling walked within a few feet of Ramirez and fired the Taser.
That attempt was unsuccessful. The video footage appears to show Ramirez walking toward Colling and batting away the discharged electrodes.
When nonlethal force isn’t effective, DeBree said “it’s up to the individual officer” on how to respond.
There’s no standard protocol, he said, for the situation Colling was confronted with.
Colling backed away as he drew his gun, and his body cam appears to show a scuffle between the two before the video cuts out.
The dash-cam video, however, appears to show Ramirez advancing toward Colling, who walked backward while firing multiple shots at close range.
Ramirez then fell forward as Colling called for an ambulance.
DeBree said he thinks Colling’s body cam turned off during the scuffle when it became unplugged from its battery pack.
“That’s what we’re assuming at this point,” he said.
Colling has since been placed on administrative leave.
Colling fatally shot a teenager in 2009 and was later fired from Las Vegas’ police department in 2011 after beating a man who was filming police.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department eventually paid Colling’s victim $100,000 in a March 2012 settlement.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department also conducted an internal investigation into the matter and concluded in 2011 that Colling violated several of the department’s policies.
Colling’s two previous shootings were ruled to be justified.
When Colling’s past controversies became public knowledge in Laramie four years ago, Albany County Sheriff David O’Malley faced scrutiny for having hired the man. At the time, O’Malley strongly defended the hiring and called Colling “the best man for the job.”
Colling was born and raised in Laramie and his father is a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper.
Ramirez, 39, had a variant of schizophrenia, and his family told the Laramie Boomerang that Colling knew Ramirez and was aware of his mental health issues.
The family criticized O’Malley for hiring Colling.
Colling graduated from the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy in March 2013, first in his class. He was also awarded Top Shooter, Top Physical Fitness, Top Academic and Top Graduate — the first person to sweep all categories at the academy.