By Jeff Todd
PARK COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– The family of a fallen deputy is suing his former boss, and a current deputy has joined the lawsuit.
The family of Corporal Nate Carrigan along with Deputy Kolby Martin filed the Federal lawsuit against the Park County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Fred Wegener, and Captain Mark Hancock saying the decisions on Feb. 24, 2016 were “grossly negligent” and “created a dangerous situation that resulted in life threatening injuries.”
The suit states a morning briefing was held, in which Hancock said if Martin Wirth retreated into the house the six officers on scene would retreat and a SWAT team would be called in. The briefing highlighted that Wirth was a high-risk threat and had made comments about killing cops.
Reid Elkus, Partner with Elkus and Sisson, is filing the lawsuit on behalf of the deputies. He says the department’s failure to do certain things resulted in Carrigan being killed and Martin shot numerous times.
He says the lawsuit not only intended to give those deputies families what they deserve monetarily, but also to hopefully change the way things are done in the Park County Sheriff’s Department, “If he’s (Sheriff Fred Wegner) is going to do this the same every time, with someone that’s a known threat to law enforcement, you’re going to expose other officers to being shot and killed.”
When officers arrived at the home to evict Wirth, he retreated inside.
“Instead of treating the situation as a barricade and getting highly skilled, trained and equipped SWAT officers involved, per the plan previously explained by Captain Hancock, the Sheriff gave Captain Hancock the go ahead to breach the residence. This order came without the Sheriff first electing to talk the issue out with Mr. Wirth and without being in full view of the events on scene,” the suit alleges.
Hancock and three other deputies went to the front door of the house. Carrigan was shot and killed with one bullet through the arm pit. Deputy Martin was shot eight times and is still recovering from his injuries.
The suit is claiming the plaintiffs, Carrigan and Martin, had their 14th Amendment rights violated and were victims of “deliberately indifferent training and supervision.”
Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.