CASPER — The family of a man who shot a cop in May 2018 before Casper police killed him by returning fire sued in federal court on Monday the officers, the department and the city.
The lawsuit filed Monday is largely similar to the language of draft litigation provided to the city in September by a lawyer for the family of David Wolosin. Although that paperwork was sent on a Cheyenne lawyer’s letterhead, the Monday filing was made by Wolosin’s brother, Daniel, of Bar Nunn, without a lawyer.
Police encountered Wolosin on May 6, 2018, at a dirt lot in east Casper, where, according to a call to police, he’d been allowing children to drive a car. Officer Randi Garrett arrived first, and when Officer Jacob Carlson arrived as backup, he tried to grab Wolosin by the wrist, according to video footage taken from Garrett’s dash camera. Wolosin pulled a gun on Carlson and shot him multiple times. Carlson returned fire and hit Wolosin once.
The two cops crouched behind the car, which had Wolosin’s two nephews inside. Wolosin hit the vehicle with gunfire multiple times, according to a Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation report. The children were not physically injured.
Garrett shot and killed Wolosin.
The brother, Daniel Wolosin, said by phone Tuesday morning that the family had decided to file the lawsuit without a lawyer because Ronald Pretty, the Cheyenne lawyer, had made errors in earlier drafts of legal documents.
A document provided to the city in September as part of the process required to sue a government agency sometimes used the names of brothers incorrectly. At one point, for instance, the document referred to David as Daniel.
Although the notice of claim provided to the Star-Tribune requested a total of $700,000 in compensation for the man’s death, Monday’s filing asked for a total award of $500,000. The lawsuit retained language requesting apologies from the officers and the city.
Daniel Wolosin declined on Tuesday to speak about specific legal doctrines pertaining to the claims, instead referring a reporter to the lawsuit itself. He also referred to a statement made in September to Wyoming News Now that made general reference to alleged misrepresentation of information by city officials and lawyers.
Wolosin said that the family’s interest in the case was not financial and he characterized police actions as assault requiring his brother act in self defense.
“This is about holding people accountable for unlawful actions,” he said.
City Attorney John Henley said early Tuesday afternoon that the city is not open to discussing settlement in the case. He said that the State Attorney General’s Office was expected to represent the two officers. That agency does not typically comment on pending or ongoing litigation.
The city, Henley said, typically refers its own defense to its insurance pool. He declined to address specifics of the complaint and applicable law.
“I’m still shocked and troubled that anyone would file a complaint like this,” Henley said.
According to statements by the police department, Carlson and his doctors, the officer nearly died from his wounds. His heart stopped on an operating room table, and doctors had to cut his sternum open in order to manually compress his heart and provide blood to his vital organs. He received more than 100 units of blood and blood product — about 10 times the amount in a person’s body at any given time — in the days immediately following the shooting.
Carlson has mostly physically recovered but took a medical retirement from the police department in December. Garrett still works for the agency. She was not wounded in the shootout but afterward did receive mental health treatment.
The Natrona County District Attorney’s Office declined to charge the two officers in relation to the shooting, determining that Wolosin attacked them without provocation.