CASPER — A federal judge on Tuesday denied the Casper Police Department’s request for dismissal of a lawsuit that alleges two police officers violated a man’s constitutional rights when they killed him in February 2018.
Judge Scott Skavdahl’s ruling came in response to an early May filing by the agency, the city of Casper and 10 unnamed police employees asking the judge to toss a civil lawsuit against them and two named police officers who shot at Douglas Oneyear last year. The officers, Jonathan Schlager and Cody Meyers, shot at Oneyear early on Feb. 25, 2018, as he walked toward them on 15th Street in east Casper. Oneyear was carrying a sword, and officers said they fired at him when he ignored commands to stop moving toward them.
In the Wednesday morning filing, Skavdahl ruled only on the defendants’ argument that Oneyear’s mother, Linda Lennen, did not provide a set of allegations that the court is empowered to remedy. In denying the argument, the judge wrote that Lennen’s lawyer, Todd Hambrick, “has alleged, and supported with factual underpinnings, that the officers here used unconstitutional excessive force in shooting Mr. Oneyear and they did so pursuant to their training.”
The judge ruled that Hambrick’s filings were enough to support a plausible claim of deliberate indifference on the part of the city and agency that led to Oneyear’s death. In making his ruling, Skavdahl only determined that the complaint is “plausible on its face.”
Schlager and Meyers did not join the agency and city in requesting dismissal of the case. They have, however, denied using excessive force against Oneyear.
The two officers were placed on administrative leave following the shooting and investigators eventually found that Schlager hit Oneyear twice in the spine, killing him.
Then-District Attorney Michael Blonigen said in a March letter to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, which examined the shooting, that Oneyear’s death was a case of suicide by cop. The prosecutor’s office declined to charge either of the two officers with a crime. They had returned to duty by early April 2018.
The February complaint accuses the city, agency and Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy of failing to properly train officers and implement policies that would have prevented Oneyear’s death.
By Shane Sanderon
Casper Star-Tribune Via Wyoming News Exchange