A suit was filed in Denver U.S. District Court against Park County Sheriff's Department (PCSO) commanders Sheriff Fred Wegener and Captain Mark Hancock. Deputy Nate Carrigan was killed and Kolby Martin was wounded in the incident. The plaintiffs allege that the commanders were grossly negligent in their decision making regarding the attempted eviction of Martin Wirth from his foreclosed home. Mr. Wirth had a history of contempt for law enforcement.
Prior Knowledge Regarding Mr. Wirth
Martin Wirth had received a notice of eviction, which the PCSO manages. Colorado Bureau of Investigation records indicate that Wirth stated that he would “not leave his home unless dead, and wasn't afraid to take law enforcement with him.” Mr. Wirth had a history of posting anti-police related dialogue on social media. One month prior, Wirth tried to obtain auto insurance from a local office, but was ineligible because he did not have a driver's license. While leaving the office he stated “I should grab my gun and shoot the first cop I see”, which the PCSO was notified about. A neighbor informed PCSO that he had heard Mr. Wirth comment about shooting law enforcement on several occasions.
The Eviction Plan
On the day of the eviction, PCSO held a meeting where Sheriff Wegener and Captain Hancock outlined the agenda. Hancock classified the eviction as high risk, yet did not feel SWAT forces were necessary; instead opting to use six officers. Hancock explained that if Wirth did not exit the home, that they would back off and engage a SWAT unit to evict him.
Mr. Wirth refused to exit the property upon their order to do so. Rather than retreating and having SWAT engage (per the plan), Hancock ordered the officers to breach the residence. After entering, Deputy Martin was shot in the pelvic region and legs by Mr. Wirth. Following exchanges of gunfire, it was determined that Deputy Martin was injured, and Deputy Carrigan and Mr. Wirth both died on the scene.
The suit seeks compensatory and additional damages for distress, injuries, loss of enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering. The suit specifically requested “all financial losses allowed for in the law”. The plaintiffs believe the negligence of the PCSO leadership created an unnecessarily dangerous situation. The defendants are alleged to have ignored their own standards and training protocol by taking the officers into action without the proper equipment or back-up support, a violation of the plaintiff's federal rights.
An unexpected tragedy that results in the severe injury or death of a loved one is something no one should have to endure. During these situations, it is critical to secure the best in legal assistance to proceed with your case, while you attempt to cope and heal. The Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal will fight for justice in the Colorado courts on your behalf. Contact the office immediately to discuss your case.