If you haven't read the story about the City of Laramie's settlement with University of Wyoming student Patrick Lewallen, you might want to read it first for a little bit of background on the whole situation that this opinion piece is based on. Please note that the facts here are substantiated from media reports including the Casper Star Tribune's which talks about the lawsuit itself. While I was not present at the time of the incident when Laramie police tasered Lewallen, the facts from the situation are a bit upsetting to me and this is my opinion on the situation.

After initially taking a look at the facts as to what each party said took place at the Library Bar, there seems to be a few claims that fail to line up and make logical sense in Lewallen's account of the incident. From what I could tell, Lewallen's claim was that he was leaving the bar as officer Cleven was arriving.   

According to Lewallen, Laramie Police office Christopher Cleven tasered him without any warning as he was leaving. How would officer Cleven have know Lewallen was the suspect if he'd just been arriving, never seen Lewallen before and didn't know the complaint at the bar was about him? I find it hard to believe that a police officer would randomly tase someone that they thought might have caused the complaint coming out of the bar and especially without any reasonable warning. It just doesn't make logical sense.

The fact that Lewallen was so drunk at the time, something well documented, is also a concern; I have a tough time taking his word over that of a Laramie Police officer who was completely sober at the time. We all know what types of things happen when someone is intoxicated, but just take a look at the effects on a driver in the chart below up to a blood alcohol concentration of  .10 and think about what someone with a BAC of .232 would look like. Officer Cleven's account of the incident makes perfectly logical sense compared to that of Lewallen's account in my opinion. For details on officer Cleven's account, read this story.


Here are a few other things to think about. If officer Cleven had not tasered Lewallen, his injuries could have actually been much worse due to the fact that he was very intoxicated and about to cross one of the busiest streets in the City of Laramie. No I am not saying that any drunk person in the city crossing a busy street should be tasered, but in this situation the risk is something to think about. Since officer Cleven stated that Lewallen was fleeing, although we will never know the exact truth, the tasering seems like an appropriate action and use of force based on the officer's account. It would be irresponsible for police not to stop someone who is fleeing from them. What if in fleeing Lewallen decided to drive while intoxicated and killed an innocent civilian in the process? Police would be criticised for not stopping him when they had the chance.         

The Wyoming Association of Risk Management, the City of Laramie's liability provider, was in a position where it was most likely cheaper to settle the lawsuit against them out of court. This seems to be commonplace nowadays as the legal fees to go to court in most cases are often higher than just settling. It is my feeling that this may have been known when the lawsuit was filed and that it was an opportune way to make money off of the incident, even if the claims may not have held up in court. Keep in mind that I am not saying Lewallen's claims were not true, but that in my opinion they don't seem to make complete sense given the facts that I have seen.

My frustration comes from the feeling that Lewallen's claims didn't seem to make sense, and that he was paid at least $49,000 from the incident.  It is sad that in today's world people know they can make claims against someone with an almost assured chance to make money out of court. This happens across the US every day, but this case hits close to home if my intuition here is correct.

If anyone has thoughts on this incident feel free to comment below or bring more facts into play that might not have been included in the reports that I based my opinion on. There are sure to be more details that I have not seen about the incident and they shouldn't be ignored. I don't mean to be too judgemental here, but from the facts on the table it is hard not to see the lawsuit claims in this light.

More From Laramie Live