- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A Laramie County man who was shot and wounded by city police during a traffic stop has filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Cheyenne and four city police officers.

Lawyers for Mathew Carabajal, also known as Mathew Carabajal Jacoby, state in the lawsuit that he suffered brain injuries and other wounds when a Cheyenne policeman shot him with a shotgun in September 2011, when he was 21. Carabajal’s young son was present at the shooting and also is a plaintiff.

Laramie County District Attorney Scott Homar announced in 2011 he wouldn’t file charges in the shooting because a law enforcement investigation determined Carabajal was driving toward officers when he was shot.

Carabajal filed his lawsuit Monday in Cheyenne. It seeks an award of damages for civil rights violations, punitive damages and nearly $1.5 million in medical bills. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl of Casper.

Cheyenne lawyer Richard Wolf represents Carabajal and declined comment on the case. Lawyers from a New Mexico law firm also are representing Carabajal and attempts to reach those lawyers for comment were unsuccessful.

Cheyenne City Attorney Daniel White also declined comment, saying his office doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit gives the following account of events of the shooting:

- City Police Officer Pat Johnston tried to pull over Carabajal as he was driving home from a relative’s house early in the morning of Sept. 19, 2011. In the car were Carabajal, his girlfriend Ariana Martinez, their infant son and Carabajal’s cousin, Christophe Carabajal.

- Johnston turned on his emergency lights but Carabajal kept driving for several blocks before pulling over near his home on the south side of Cheyenne.

- Officers Josh Thornton and Matthew Colson arrived and blocked Carabajal’s car from leaving with their police cars.

- Thornton pointed his shotgun at the Carabajal’s car and said, “Don’t start the car or I’ll shoot.”

- Carabajal’s car rolled forward a few feet and Thornton shot into the windshield twice, hitting Carabajal in the head, face, arm and torso with pellets. His son, in a car seat in the back of the car, was nearly hit.

- Officer Michael Sutton arrived at the scene and dragged Carabajal out of his car and into the street after he was shot.

- After the shooting, two officers can be seen on a dashboard video camera recording giving each other a “fist bump.”

The Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation investigated the shooting and filed a report to Homar. The Wyoming Tribune-Eagle reviewed the DCI findings and reported on them in November 2011.

According to the newspaper’s report, Thornton told DCI investigators that the car’s tires were turned, and the vehicle was moving toward him and Colson. He said Carabajal was looking at him when he heard a sudden acceleration and fired two quick shots to stop him.

Thornton said he didn’t think Colson had anywhere to go because he was standing between his patrol car and a parked car. Thornton said he had to shoot Carabajal to stop his car from killing or injuring himself or Colson, the newspaper reported.

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