The people of Wyoming are petitioning Governor Mark Gordon to remove Albany County Sheriff David O’Malley from office to restore transparency, accountability, and justice in Albany County.
During O’Malley’s leadership, the Albany County Sheriff’s Office has become the subject of multiple lawsuits stemming from misconduct, negligence, and civil rights violations. O’Malley has violated the rights of sexual assault victims, engaged in negligent hiring, supervision, and training, and perpetuated a culture within his office that endorses disrespect and disregard for the people of Albany County.
Sheriff O’Malley – The Handler and His Soldiers
Three people have been shot by ACSO since O’Malley’s 2014 re-election. Each person shot struggled with mental illness or was actively in a mental health crisis at the time of their deaths or injury.
In Dec. 2015, four ACSOs shot and killed John Alan Britton outside of the Snowy Range Ski Resort. Deputies claimed that Britton, who was actively suicidal, charged at them with a knife. The officers involved were cleared of wrongdoing by the Department of Criminal Investigation and were awarded medals of valor.
In May 2018, Deborah Hanson was shot after she allegedly pointed a gun at ACSO Ed Rosier and highway patrolman Richard Colling – the father of ACSO Derek Colling. Hanson, who survived multiple gunshot wounds, a coma, and the loss of her right arm, was later charged by the Albany County Attorney’s Office with aggravated assault and battery and both officers were cleared of wrongdoing.
In the case of Britton and Hanson, no footage or public records have been released and factual details are largely unknown.
In Nov. 2018, Corporal Derek Colling shot and killed Robbie Ramirez, who was unarmed and known to struggle with mental illness. Ramirez, who was shot three times, including twice in the back, was the third person Corporal Colling killed as a police officer since 2006. Before he was hired by O’Malley in 2011, Colling had killed two people, assaulted a man who was filming police, was fired by Las Vegas Metro Police Department, and was the subject of two civil lawsuits, one of which LVMPD paid $100,000 in a civil settlement.
Sheriff O’Malley’s Dismissal of Public Concerns
As predicted, Colling killed again and was moved from patrolman to detective, a move that ACoPP told O’Malley would dissolve public trust and cooperation with law enforcement in Albany County. Concerns were validated after dozens of people spoke confidentially with ACoPP, stating that they feared calling police or aiding in investigations. Colling’s credibility was eventually brought to court, as defense attorneys argued he could not be trusted as a source.
After months of demanding transparency and accountability from county and state officials, residents asked county commissioners to do something about Colling’s continued employment and more than 2,500 people signed a petition demanding Colling be fired and decertified. Colling is now under investigation for decertification by the Peace Officer Standards and Training board.
In June, hundreds of protestors took to the streets in Laramie demanding local police reforms following the death of George Floyd – they had not forgotten Robbie Ramirez. Nearly 1,000 people echoed “F*** Derek Colling,” and “fire Derek Colling now” down Grand Avenue. As protests have continued, echoes of “hey hey, ho ho, Dave O’Malley has got to go,” echo off the face of the Albany County Courthouse.
On July 1, records requests revealed mishandlings and dismissals of a civilian complaint. Kati Hime, the sister of Corporal Colling, filed a complaint with HR regarding concerns of Colling’s alleged use of a fake social media profile to target civilians and justify his killings. O’Malley dismissed Hime as someone who needed “professional help” and was “difficult to listen to.” “DeBree suggested it’s not unusual for officers to consider the mental health of citizens who file complaints against officers,” WyoFile reported.
O’Malley’s Disregard for the United States Constitution
Sheriff O’Malley has tried to do a lot of good for the LGBTQ+ community following the murder of Matthew Shepard that brought national attention. Now, he’s being sued for allowing and participating in civil rights violations of a rape victim based on their gender and sexual identity in 2017.
Aaron Gallegos and Christian Handley interrogated and threatened the rape victim with criminal charges for supposedly falsely reporting the rape. Both officers cited the victim’s sexual identity in their reasoning for why they thought the report was false. The federal judge assigned to the case said that Sergeant Handley didn’t appear to understand consent, and that Sheriff O’Malley signed off on his deputies’ decision to interrogate and violate the rights of a rape victim.
However, O’Malley didn’t just sign off on the civil rights violations – he participated in them when he allowed the victim’s ROTC supervisor at the University of Wyoming to watch the footage – an illegal breach of victim confidentiality. While the details of O’Malley’s misconduct cannot be known entirely, we do know that the victim’s supervisor had the victim discharged from ROTC which resulted in loss of education funding and career change for the victim.
Quallen, the sexual assault survivor and victim of ACSO misconduct, is currently suing the sheriff’s office in federal court.
O’Malley’s Price Tag
Currently, the county is incurring hefty private attorney costs to defend the egregious actions of the ACSO. If successful, the misconduct in Quallen’s case could cost more than a million dollars in a settlement alone. And, if the family of Robbie Ramirez is successful in suing the ACSO for wrongful death and negligence committed by O’Malley, the $20 million price tag could bankrupt Albany County.
It’s Time for a New Sheriff in Town
Sheriff O’Malley has stressed the importance of strong leadership before, and we believe it is time for him to turn over leadership to someone who will make Albany County a safer place and uphold their oath to serve and protect. We need lawful people who work to defend our civil rights and the United States Constitution – not the good ol’ boys.
According to Corporal Colling’s timeline of previous conduct, we only have two more years before another person in our community is brutalized or killed. We need a new Sheriff to advocate for the needs of this community right now.