Casper Police Provide Clarification on Eastridge Mall Boulder Incident
On August 21, 2022, K2 Radio News reported that a Casper Police Department patrol car had driven on top of a decorative boulder in the parking lot of Eastridge Mall. A photo from a citizen that K2 Radio News shared showed the car on top of the rock, with a caption that said 'Well that sucks.'
The photo was shared almost 200 hundred times, and most people got a quick chuckle out of it.
What we didn't know, and have only recently come to find out, was that the officer involved in the incident was dispatched to what could have been a life-threatening situation in another part of the city.
"At 8:39 PM, the officer was dispatched to a disturbance involving multiple persons yelling in another part of the city, where it was reported that at least one person had armed themselves with a knife and pepper spray," wrote Police Chief Keith McPheeters in a statement to K2 Radio News.
The statement noted that while the officer was receiving this information from dispatch, a different car had pulled into the parking spot directly across from the officer's vehicle. While a previous report stated that the patrol car was driving through the parking lot, information from Chief McPheeters, as well as dashcam footage from the patrol car itself, showed that this was not the case.
In fact, the officer was parked in the lot, completing reports on the vehicle's mobile computer.
"The officer parked in the first available spot adjacent to a common parking lot traffic control structure," McPheeters' statement revealed. "A feature of the parking barrier was a wedge-shaped, decorative boulder, directly to the right of the officer's vehicle. Although the parking barrier and boulder remained within the view of the vehicle's camera system, they were no longer visible to the officer's direct line of sight."
It was while completing reports, that the officer involved received the dispatch call about a potential life-threatening situation in another part of Casper.
"Forgetting that the police vehicle was parked next to the traffic control barrier, the officer turned the vehicle to the right to avoid the car in front and proceeded forward, whereupon the police vehicle's tire drove perfectly up the boulder's ramp-shaped face and dropped off the other side," the statement read. "The police vehicle's passenger side frame came to rest on the boulder."
The statement notes that a replacement officer was immediately dispatched to the disturbance and that a supervisor arrived to the scene at Eastridge Mall.
"The involved officer, consistent with the policies and procedures of the Casper Police Department, was subjected to sobriety testing, including a breath alcohol test."
The statement revealed that the incident and subsequent follow-up included an on-scene investigation, sobriety verification, and an administrative review; 'a process which is consistently carried out with every such incident."
Chief McPheeters wrote that the patrol car received minor damage to the plastic, moulding trim on the bottom portion of the passenger door's frame.
"A $154 replacement part has been ordered for the vehicle," the statement read.
Chief McPheeters emphasized that his team of officers take great pride in their patrol cars, because they understand that the cars are, in fact, public property. That's not something they take lightly.
"The marked police vehicles of the Casper Police Department serve as the mobile office workspace for the majority of the officers' 12-hour shift," the statement said. "Although every loss of, or damage to, publicly funded property is regrettable, the Casper Police Department and its employees take pride in our care for the tools and equipment we use to ensure the public's safety in our community."
Finally, as always, Chief McPheeters wants to remind the public that 'The Casper Police Department is dedicated to the protection and safety of our community through the highest standards of professionalism in police services."