Rock Springs Police release bodycam after allegations made against an officer from a traffic stop
At the Tuesday, November 21st, Rock Springs City Council’s meeting, Mayor Max Mickelson submitted his written statement and commented on accusations against a Rock Springs Police Officer made by NewsBreak articles written on Nov. 9th and 17th.
Before reading his written statement, Mickelson informed the council and attendees of the meeting about what he had discovered while researching the NewsBreak website. “The way NewsBreak works is once you have written ten articles for them, and you have had 100 interactions, they start paying you.” Said Mickelson, “This gentleman has gained about 84 new followers since he started writing articles about our various law enforcement agencies. So, all of this “truth-seeking” seems to be solely for his benefit to generate an income.”
According to the NewsBreak articles, the police officer in question allegedly traumatized a woman, who had just claimed she had just been sexually assaulted, by arresting her because she had been drinking while supposedly allowing her attacker to walk away. Yet, the alleged assailant was arrested on Nov. 8, 2023, for “Robbery – Threatens or Fears Bodily Injury (WRNT PV)” and is being held without bond at this time.
In Mayor Mickelson’s statement, released on Nov. 17, he states that the Rock Springs Chief of Police, Bill Erspamer, has investigated the claims and has found the allegations to be “factually baseless and unfounded”. Mickelson also pointed out that the person who contacted NewsBreak wasn’t even the woman who was allegedly the victim in this case, but instead it was a family member who contacted them.
The NewsBreak article also claimed that the author, Shane Browning, requests for public records from the Rock Springs Police Department for bodycam footage and documents were repeatedly denied. However, in Browning’s own Nov. 16 NewsBreak article, he shows the response letter from the Rock Springs Police Department Records Supervisor, Elizabeth Coontz stating that Browning just needed to pay the records request fee and show a valid ID to receive the public records. Coontz’s letter also stated that an appointment could be made with Chief Erspamer to view the bodycam video at the records' office if Browning wished to see them.
In response to the records request allegations, Mayor Mickelson stated in his letter, “To serve the public interest, Chief Erspamer will release the bodycam recordings, allowing everyone to see the evidence I have seen. Baseless and unfounded, but costing time, resources, and morale to investigate.”
At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Mickelson noted that this whole ordeal has been very expensive, not only because of the cost of an investigation into the allegations but also costly in terms of the morale of the Police Department and our community. “It is sad that to answer to these charges and to provide the public with the transparency it is owed, we are going to release the body cam footage of this arrest, which, unfortunately, for two people who are residents of the city, one of the most difficult and embarrassing moments of their lives is now going to be public instead of between, them, law enforcement, and the courts. So, this individual has not only harmed the city, but he has harmed the people in this situation during this difficult time, purely for monetary benefit.” Mickelson went on to say that what the NewsBreak author, Shane Browning, did is very different from what actual journalists do.